Abbas calls on Hamas to accept early elections

By Xinhua,

Ramallah : Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday called on Hamas to accept early presidential and parliamentary elections.

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“We call on Hamas to step back from its coup, to accept the legitimacy and to immediately accept holding early presidential and parliamentary elections,” Abbas told a news conference he held in Ramallah with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, adding that “we are ready for the elections.”

Hamas, which won legislative elections in January 2006, ousted pro-Abbas forces from Gaza Strip and took over the territory last June. After sacking Hamas-led unity government, Abbas formed a Western-backed government based in the West Bank without the trust from the Hamas-dominated parliament.

“We stress that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are a united geographical part,” Abbas added.

Meanwhile, Abbas renewed the Palestinian National Authority’s (PNA) commitment to negotiations and peace process with Israel. As part of the commitment, Abbas added he will meet Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert on Monday while the heads of the negotiation teams, former Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, will also meet Monday. “The meetings will discuss the final status issues and thevital daily life issues,” he said.

Abbas urged Israel to carry out the first phase of the U.S.-backed Road Map peace plan since it was the reference of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks which resumed following a U.S. initiative in November.

The first phase, according to Abbas, is stopping the constructions of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank, reopening the PNA institutions in Jerusalem and ending all the measures that Israel took after the eruption of the second Palestinian uprising in 2000.