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Hamas tells Abbas his term as president has expired

Haniya speaking at an event commemorating Sheikh Ahmed Yassin [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 2 April, 2015

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Gaza-based movement says Abbas should "respect limitations" of his position after president urges Arab leaders to back him as chief authority over all Palestinian matters.

Hamas has told Mahmoud Abbas that his term as Palestinian president has "expired according to the Palestinian constitution".

The remarks on Wednesday come after Abbas called on Arab leaders to acknowledge the legitimacy of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority over all Palestinian matters - including in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri hit back in an interview with the Anadolu news agency, saying that "Abbas' statement... is reprehensible as his constitutional legitimacy had expired according to Palestinian law".

Zuhri added: "Abbas is merely a temporary president of the Palestinian Authority by consensus among the political factions. He has to respect the limitations of his authority and should not exceed them."

Fatah accuses Hamas of administering "a coup on Palestinian legitimacy" while Hamas accuses Fatah of "a coup on the democratic process".

Hamas won parliamentary elections of the Palestinian Legislative Council in January 2006. The Fatah movement, which controls the PA, and other Palestinian political factions refused to form a Hamas majority government headed by Ismail Haniya based on claims of "lack of compatibility in their political agendas".

There were sporadic armed clashes between Hamas and Fatah after the elections as attempts at mediation failed. A brief unity government agreed in a 2007 Saudi Arabian initiative fell apart within months and talks in Doha, Damascus and Cairo between 2008 and April 2014 also failed.

However on 23 April 2014, Fatah and Hamas signed an agreement that included the formation of national unity government for a period of six months, to be followed by legislative, presidential and national council elections, simultaneously.

On 2 June 2014 the new temporary government was officially announced, but is yet to be handed responsibilities in the Gaza Strip.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

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