PA President's Tenure Ends

Ad Feedback - RAMALLAH - Hamas officials said as of Friday, they would no longer recognize Mahmoud Abbas as president of the Palestinian Authority (PA). His term, which began in January 2005, officially ended yesterday.

"Thursday was Abbas's last day in office," said Osama Hamdan, who represents Hamas in Lebanon.

"Our position on this issue is clear: Abbas's term in office has expired," he said.

"He doesn't have the right to speak on behalf of the people," Gaza-based Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri said.

"He's in power only because the Israelis and the Americans want him to stay," he said.

But Abbas's aides said he has no intentions of stepping down anytime in the near future.

Fatah officials argue that the Israeli operation in Gaza takes precedence now.

"This is not the time to talk about such matters," one of Abbas's senior aides said.

"President Abbas was elected by a majority of the people and as such he's the legitimate leader. He represents all the Palestinians and not only those living in the West Bank," he said.

Several PA legislators said now is the time for Fatah and Hamas to reunite.

"These are tough times for all Palestinians," Jihad Abu Zneid said.

"Anyone who raises such issues now is acting against the interests of the Palestinians," he said.

But the Gaza op seems to have exacerbated the power struggle between the two rival Palestinian factions, with Hamas officials saying the PA wants them dethroned so Abbas can regain control of the Strip.

In a bloody military coup in June 2007, Hamas forces wrested control of Gaza from the PA.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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