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Abbas Sets July 26th for Palestinian Referendum

  • VOA News

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has set July 26th as the date for a referendum on establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

His announcement on Saturday came hours after the armed winged of the Palestinian governing faction, Hamas, fired rockets at Israel for the first time in more than a year. There were no reports of injuries.

The referendum, which would implicitly recognize Israel, is based on a document written by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

Hamas has declared the referendum illegal. Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas says he is to discuss the issue later today with Mr. Abbas, from the rival Fatah faction.

Hamas' militant wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, has vowed to carry out more attacks against Israeli targets, including suicide bombings. It announced an end to a 16-month truce after Israeli strikes on Friday killed three militants and seven Palestinian civilians, including children.

The head of Israel's southern command (General Yoav Galant) expressed regret for Friday's civilian deaths, but said Israel has a duty to protect itself from Palestinian rocket attacks.

Israel's military has suspended military strikes in the Gaza Strip while it investigates the civilian deaths.

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