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BBC NEWS | Middle East | Abbas 'sets date' for referendum

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is to hold a referendum on a plan for statehood that implicitly recognises Israel on 31 July, officials say.

The Palestinian Authority president will issue a decree formally announcing the date on Saturday, they added.

Mr Abbas had given Hamas, which heads the government, until the end of the week to agree the plan or said he would put it to a public vote.

Hamas has rejected the plan and said a referendum would be illegal.

Mr Abbas had originally set a deadline of last Monday for Hamas to agree to the plan, but extended it so that talks could continue.

He was reported to have met Hamas cabinet ministers earlier on Thursday, but officials said the talks broke up without agreement.

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