Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met Thursday afternoon with members of the PA's Central Election Commission in his office.
Abbas discussed with them the option to hold elections – be it general elections or a referendum – in the Palestinian Authority in the upcoming time period.
The meeting came after Abbas' speech Tuesday in Ramallah in which he said he would consider holding a referendum on the future of the current Palestinian government as way of getting out of the political crisis raging in the PA.
The meeting was held in the shadow of continuing reports by Abbas' associates that the president was still considering establishing a transitional government in preparation for early elections.
A few months ago, when Abbas declared his intention to hold a referendum on the Prisoners' Document, the Palestinian president hurried to convene the Central Elections Commission.
In the PA, the step is seen as of now more as a way of putting pressure on Hamas and the Palestinian government than as a serious intention to hold a referendum. However, those close to Abbas are saying that this time the president doesn't intend to let Hamas buy time with unending dialogue.
Ultimatum: A few days...
According to the sources, if within the next few days – by the end of Eid el-Fitr, which starts at the beginning of next week – there are no developments indicating Hamas' acceptance of the conditions of the international community and the Quartet or, alternatively, if there isn't a breakthrough in negotiations for a national unity government based on the principle of technocratic government, Abbas will announce a referendum date. Alternatively, he may even decide to dissolve to the parliament and the cabinet.
Hamas has continued in the past few days to threaten that any dissolution of the parliament and the cabinet or declaration of early elections or a referendum will result in a coup against the election results.
Palestinian Interior Minister Saeed Seyam said that any initiative made by the president outside the framework of establishing a national unity government is in essence a coup against Palestinian democracy. Seyam accused the United States, Israel, and even Arab and Palestinian bodies of trying to topple the Hamas government.
For this reason, said Seyam, they continue to impose a blockade on the government and the Palestinian Authority. Seyam said that Hamas isn't accepted as a fact on the ground and that at every juncture in which there is a disagreement between the cabinet and the president, the president threatens to hold a referendum.
"We refuse to allow referendum to be used as a threat every time there is a disagreement, especially in light of the fact that the Palestinian arena doesn't need additional reasons for tension," said Seyam. Seyam said that his party continues to be "committed to the establishment of a Palestinian national unity government."
Thursday dozens of government clerks in the Palestinian Authority received advances on their salaries in honor of Eid el-Fitr. The money was taken from a grant of 21 million euros transferred to the PA from the European Union by way of Mahmoud Abbas' office. Government workers' salaries haven't been regularly paid since last March.