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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hamas Postpones Showdown Over Israeli Recognition Vote

GAZA Strip -- The ruling Hamas militant group Tuesday delayed a parliamentary showdown with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas over his call for a referendum on statehood, saying it wanted to allow more time for dialogue.

Tensions have escalated between Abbas' Fatah movement and Hamas since the president set a referendum for July 26 on a proposal for statehood that implicitly recognizes Israel. Some fear their violent power struggle could lead to war.

Hamas had said it would submit a motion in parliament on Tuesday seeking to declare the referendum illegal.

But senior Hamas lawmaker Mushir al-Masri said negotiators from Hamas and Fatah should be given more time to reach a deal on changes to the proposal. Abbas has said the vote will be canceled if the rivals agreed on the document.

"We want to give the ongoing dialogue a chance to succeed," Masri said, without saying if Hamas had set a deadline for lodging the parliamentary motion.

Spokesmen for both Hamas and Fatah have expressed optimism that recent days of talks would resolve the impasse over the manifesto drawn up by Palestinian prisoners in an Israel jail.

But key sticking points remain.

Hamas has said it wants the proposal to explicitly reject recognition of Israel. Abbas, a moderate who favors peace talks with the Jewish state, is unlikely to agree to such wording.

"The Hamas movement rejects anything that signals recognition of the legitimacy of the occupation," Masri said.

Hamas, which has sworn to destroy Israel, brands the referendum an attempt to overthrow its three-month-old government. The group beat Fatah in parliamentary elections.