Aides to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are considering declaring presidential and Legislative Council elections by the end of 2008 in the West Bank, a senior Palestinian source told Ynet on Wednesday.
According to the source, such an offer has been examined over the past few days by the Palestinian Authority leaders, and it may become concrete should the Fatah movement fail to reach an agreement with Hamas, should Hamas refrain from returning the Gaza Strip to Abbas, and should Hamas refuse to recognize the Palestinian president as the main legitimate source of authority in the PA.
Some of Abbas' associates have reservations over the election idea, claiming that this would deepen the rift between the West Bank and Gaza.
According to one of the aides, "If Hamas fails to go back on the coup, the president will have no choice but to declare presidential and Legislative Council elections in the West Bank, so that the Israelis stop arguing that there is no one to sign an agreement with, and so that the situation in Gaza does not play into the hands of the Israelis wishing to evade an agreement."
According to the source, in such a situation the Palestinians will guarantee an agreement with Israel in the West Bank, "and then we will find time to take care of the crisis with Hamas."
The source added that the reform plans in the Palestinian security organizations is moving forward in high pace, and that PA officials hope to see them completed by the end of the year.
"The organizations must be at the heightened state of alert, so that the Israelis won't be able to say that there is no one to deliver the authority to. There will be a new elected government and professional organizations capable of enforcing order and security in the West Bank," the source said.
He added that the PA had briefed the Americans on the plan and that the latter tend to support it.