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In a sign of the possible troubles that lie ahead, plainclothes Hamas security officials surrounded a building at the Fatah-affiliated Al Azhar University in Gaza City where some pro-reconciliation activists had gathered, the university said in a statement posted on its website. Some activists were beaten, and some were detained after trying to film the standoff on their mobile phones and ordered to return for questioning on Sunday, the statement said.

Abbas‘ unity plan includes a call for parliamentary and presidential elections within six months.

In his speech, Abbas told his Fatah allies that he would not run again — the first time he has said so explicitly. However, it is not at all clear that elections will be held.

In January, Abbas said he would hold elections by September but he later backpedaled to say elections could not be held until the West Bank and Gaza are reconciled.

Abbas‘ term expired a year ago, but he had consistently held off scheduling new elections because of turmoil inside Fatah and the growing strength of Hamas in the West Bank.


Dalia Nammari contributed to this report from Ramallah.