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Abbas Power Bloat Threatens Hamas Unity Deal

Mahmoud Abbas may not serve as both Prime Minister and President, says a PNC and PLO member who is fighting the idea in court.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 2/15/2012, 8:48 PM

Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas
Flash 90

PLO executive committee member Wassel Abu Yousef said Wednesday that the next reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas meeting will take place in Cairo on Feb. 23-24.

Yousef told Palestine Radio that talks with Israel were a dead end and that the formation of a unity government with Hamas could be announced at the next meeting.

Hamas and Fatah signed an accord in May 2011 to end the bitter fueld between than that saw the rise of rival administrations in Gaza City and Ramallah in 2007.

The deal stalled over continued disagreement, including the candidate to lead a unity government, until Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal and PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas reached an agreement in Doha last week.

Under that agreement Abbas would serve as prime minister of the new unity government, which senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad said Wednesday would be "independent of any faction."

However, the choice of Abbas to break the deadlock could be the very thing that brings the unity deal to a halt.

PLO and Palestinian National Council member Abdul Jawad Saleh has appealed to the PLO high court to halt the appointment of President Abbas as head of a transitional government.

Saleh's lawyer, Raed Abdul Hamid, told Ma'an on Wednesday that Abbas' appointment violates PA law.

"The Palestinian basic law depends on the separation of powers concept in both article 45 which is: The President of the National Authority shall appoint the Prime Minister and authorize the latter to constitute his government. The President shall have the right to dismiss the Prime Minister or to accept his resignation and to request him to convene the Council of Ministers," Hamid explained.

"The Palestinian basic law shows that its aim was to separate the tasks of the PM and the president, therefore when the president is handed the tasks of PM this would violate the constitution," he added.

Abbas is presently the chairman of the PLO’s executive committee, the president of the Palestinian Authority, the commander of the Palestinian armed forces and security services, the prime minister of PA enclaves in Judea and Samaria and Gaza, and the head of the Fatah movement.

Abbas’ term as PA president ended two years ago, but he has consistently refused to sign and order authorizing new elections. Critics say he has so refused because he wants to control who will replace him.