Hamas on Saturday rejected a deadline set by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to accept a plan that indirectly calls for recognition of Israel, which he has threatened to put to a referendum.
Abbas had stunned the Islamist militant group, which won an election in January, by giving it 10 days to accept the plan, and talks had been expected to begin on Saturday.
But Sami Abu-Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said they would be delayed, adding:
"There is no need for the 10-day idea. As long as we are talking about dialogue, there shouldn't be any dates set."
Abbas says he will hold the vote within 40 days if Hamas does not accept the plan, which calls for a Palestinian state alongside Israel if Israel withdraws from occupied territories, and was drawn up by Palestinian leaders jailed by Israel.
Abu-Zuhri said the sides had also not agreed on a slate of negotiators or a venue.
Hamas, whose charter calls for Israel's destruction, has already rejected the plan.
But its continued refusal to renounce violence or recognize Israel has triggered severe international pressure, including a financial boycott that has threatened to bankrupt the Palestinian Authority.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Hamas rejected Abbas' call for a referrendum. But that isn't stopping the spin.