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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06JERUSALEM2151
2006-05-26 15:58:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Consulate Jerusalem
Cable title:  

DIVERGENT REACTIONS TO ABU MAZEN'S NATIONAL

Tags:   PREL  PGOV  KWBG  KPAL  KDEM  IS 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXYZ0002
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHJM #2151/01 1461558
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 261558Z MAY 06
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2415
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC PRIORITY
						C O N F I D E N T I A L JERUSALEM 002151 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

NEA FOR FRONT OFFICE, NSC FOR ABRAMS/DORAN/LOGERFO

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/26/2016
TAGS: PREL PGOV KWBG KPAL KDEM IS
SUBJECT: DIVERGENT REACTIONS TO ABU MAZEN'S NATIONAL
DIALOGUE REFERENDUM

REF: JERUSALEM 02135

Classified By: Consul General Jake Walles, per reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (C) Summary. Hamas has yet to articulate a consistent
position on Abu Mazen's intention to hold a national
referendum proposal. Fatah officials have noted the
discrepancy in statements from Hamas, a division which they
hope to exploit in the coming 10-day discussion period.
Meanwhile, the National Dialogue discussions continued on May


26. The Chief Electoral Officer of the Central Elections
Commission (CEC) held a private meeting May 26 with Abu Mazen
to discuss modalities for holding a national referendum. End
summary.

Contradictory Hamas Reactions
To Possible Referendum


--------------------------





2. (C) Hamas officials in the West Bank and Gaza have
expressed divergent reactions to the May 25 speech by Abu
Mazen, in which the Palestinian president announced his
intention to proceed with a national referendum unless the
factions reach consensus on the basis of the prisoners'
initiative (reftel). While most other factions -- including
the PFLP, DFLP, the Third Way, and Palestinian People's Party
-- have supported Abu Mazen's call for a referendum, Hamas'
officials have publicly presented contradictory views.
(Note: The noted exception is Khaled al-Batsh, a senior PIJ
political activist from Gaza, who said that his movement
categorically rejected the idea of holding a referendum. End
note.)



3. (C) Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri described the
referendum as a backhanded attempt to preempt the outcome of
the National Dialogue. Abu Zuhri added that the prisoners'
initiative represented one of several proposals that require
further consideration. A statement published by Hamas on its
official website characterized the call for a referendum as
an effort to pressure the movement and pre-empt any further
discussion during the National Dialogue.



4. (C) In contrast, several high-level Hamas officials put
a more positive spin on the referendum. PM Isma'il Haniyyah
stated that his government does not oppose the prisoners'
initiative but the issue would require further discussion.
PLC Speaker Aziz Dweik similarly praised the initiative,
adding that he did not oppose going to a national referendum.
PA Finance Minister Omar 'Abd al-Raziq, however, predicted
that there would be no need for a referendum since all
factions would reach consensus on the initiative.

Fatah Sees Fractured
Hamas, And Opportunity


--------------------------





5. (C) Contacts in Abu Mazen's office took note of the
conflicting statements emanating from Hamas and concluded
that the varied reactions reflected that Hamas was taken by
surprise by Abu Mazen's speech. They reiterated their
expectation that the Palestinian public would overwhelmingly
support a referendum, citing a Fatah-initiated poll that
indicated strong support in favor of the prisoners'
initiative.

Clock Ticking On Referendum


--------------------------





6. (C) Delegates to the National Dialogue reconvened May
26 to continue discussions. The plenary meetings are
scheduled to wrap up on the evening of May 26, and work will
continue over the next 10 days in a committee with
representatives from the main factions.

Abu Mazen Discusses
Referendum With CEC


--------------------------





7. (C) During a May 26 telecon with ConGen Poloff, Ammar
Dweik, the Chief Electoral Officer for the Central Elections
Commission (CEC) reported that he had been summoned to Abu
Mazen's office to discuss the modalities for holding a
national referendum. Dweik informed Abu Mazen that there is
no existing legal framework either in the Basic Law or in
Election Law to hold a national referendum. Dweik thought
that Abu Mazen might opt to issue a presidential decree
authorizing the referendum. Dweik said that the CEC would
need between 45 to 60 days to prepare. (Comment: This is 5
to 20 days longer than Abu Mazen's 40-day time-frame. End

comment.)

WALLES