Haniyeh: We'll boycott elections; al-Zahar attacked
Tensions rise in PA: Palestinian Foreign Minister al-Zahar's convoy comes under fire in Gaza City Sunday; no injuries reported in attack. Prime Minister Haniyeh responds to Abbas' speech, declares Hamas won't take part in early elections. Meanwhile, new poll shows Haniyeh, Abbas tied in presidential race
Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar's convoy came under fire Sunday as it passed through Gaza City, and members of his Hamas movement accused Fatah rivals of trying to assassinate him.
The shooting took place as al-Zahar, a senior Hamas official, was traveling near the Foreign Ministry. "
It appears the target was Dr. al-Zahar," said Taher Anunu, a spokesman for Zahar.
"The attempt to assassinate Zahar has failed and he is safe and he was not harmed in the shooting."
Hamas officials said there were no other injuries. But the shooting added to the rising tensions between Fatah and Hamas.
'New elections unconstitutional'
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas said Sunday that Hamas will not participate in early elections.
Haniyeh denounced President Mahmoud Abbas' speech, in which he called for a new vote, "inflammatory."
"We confirm that the Palestinian government refuses the invitation to early elections because it is unconstitutional and could cause tension among Palestinians," Haniyeh said in his first public comments on the matter.
Haniyeh sharply attacked Abbas, saying his Saturday speech calling for early presidential and parliamentary elections was "inflammatory" and "insulting to the sacrifices and the pain of Palestinians everywhere."
If Haniyeh chooses to run against Abbas in the presidential elections, a new poll predicts he has a good chance of winning. According to the poll, Haniyeh currently enjoys 45 percent approval rate among the Palestinian public, compared to 46 percent for Abbas.
The survey, which was conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, polled 1,270 respondents. Other findings reveal that Fatah currently leads in the parliamentary elections, with a 42 percent support compared to 36 percent for Hamas.
Ali Waked contributed to the report