Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen) recently announced he intends to extend his term in office into 2010.
He said he plans to do so by means of what is being called a legal ploy that will involve dissolving the Palestinian Legislative Council before the end of his term in January 2009.
Mr. Abbas will then complement the dissolution of parliament with an extension of his own term by six months, in the event that the reconciliation talks among the various Palestinian factions should fail.
Arab sources report that Mr. Abbas made his decision following consultations with senior PA officials and experts on the Palestinian constitution, which confirmed the report.
A high-ranking Palestinian source said that Mr. Abbas would announce his decision in the event that the reconciliation talks that are to be held in October in Cairo were to end in failure.
According to reports, Hamas is not expected to be forthcoming with Fatah or to take any measures that are likely to contribute to Palestinian unity.
Meanwhile, PA officials said that Mr. Abbas intended to extend his term in office by another year.
This confirms the statements that were made yesterday by Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki during a lecture he gave in Jerusalem to Israeli Foreign Ministry officials. He said Mr. Abbas would remain in office until January 2010.
Mr. Maliki said that following the death of former PA Chairman Yasser Arafat, any decision to extend the chairman’s term had to be made in conjunction and with the cooperation of others. One high-ranking Palestinian official said that the decision was made after senior PA officials advised Mr. Abbas to dissolve the Palestinian parliament, which is comprised of a Hamas majority. “Ending Abbas’s term this coming January creates a situation in which his replacement is his deputy, the PLC speaker from Hamas, Ahmed Bahar,” said the official. Hamas has threatened that it will not recognize a new Palestinian Legislative Council and said that “a decision of that sort will be a continuation of a series of illegal decisions that Abu Mazen has made,” said a Hamas spokesman.
Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat, tried to say that all options were open and in a conversation with Israeli media denied the above report and said that the issue of Palestinian unity was at the top of the PA chairman’s agenda. “Abbas intends to act to end the division between Hamas and Fatah and to achieve a full agreement to his reelection,” he said.
David Bedein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2008