Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Abbas give Hamas more time

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gave Hamas more time to respond to his demand that it recognize Israel's right to exist.

Abbas had set a Tuesday deadline for Hamas to embrace the manifesto on Palestinian statehood but delayed a showdown after what officials said were appeals by Arab leaders. Abbas gave Hamas another 48 hours.

I hope this is just a breathing space, and not a sign that Abbas may back off from his threat to call a referendum. The threat was a bold move, designed to shift the debate and try to resolve the growing crisis within the Palestinian Authority; Abbas cannot afford to have it exposed as a bluff -- or worse, to show that he can be cowed.

on the positive side, while some Hamas-Fatah fighting continues, Hamas has agreed to pull its private militia off the streets of Gaza.

Of course, it did the same thing last week and the militia remained. So time will tell if they mean it this time.

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