Fatah officials said on Friday the idea of scrapping the Palestinian Authority (PA) was debated for the first time on Thursday night by the Fatah central committee, which controls Mahmoud Abbas's faction.
   
The discussion highlighted frustrations within Fatah, beaten by Hamas in elections in January, after Israel's seizure of a Palestinian leader in a prison raid in the West Bank this week.
   
A Fatah official said Abbas's aide, Tayib Abd al-Rahim, had sparked the debate in the central committee, winning support from several members.

"Abdel-Rahim said at the meeting Abbas must consider resigning and dissolving the Palestinian Authority if Israel continues with its attacks and unilateral measures," said the official, who asked not to be named.
   
"Why should we accept blow after blow to President Abbas whom the world claims to support?"

Abbas, who resigned once when he was prime minister under the late Yasser Arafat, and has threatened to quit since becoming president, told the central committee that he would consider the proposal, the official said.

Hamas opposition
   
Islamist resistance movement Hamas, which is about to form a government that Fatah and other factions have refused to join, said it opposed dissolving the PA.
 

"Why should we accept blow after blow to President Abbas whom the world claims to support?"

Fatah official quoting
Tayib Abd al-Rahim,
aide to Mahmoud Abbas

Khalid Sulayman, a Hamas member of parliament, said: "This is not the right national position to take."
   
Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, asked why Fatah members had not proposed scrapping the PA earlier when its writ was undermined by Israeli offensives in the West Bank.
   
"These events were more grave than what happened in Jericho," he said.

Aid groups and an international envoy have warned of the risk of chaos and violence if the PA collapses amid moves to isolate a Hamas-led government.

Tit-for-tat

Fatah officials said winding up the PA would be a protest against what they saw as efforts by Israel and the United States to sideline Abbas as a negotiating partner.
   
They said it would be timely because unilateral Israeli policies had already weakened the PA and dimmed hopes of achieving a viable, contiguous Palestinian state.
   
Many Palestinians saw Tuesday's prison raid in the West Bank city of Jericho as a deliberate attempt to humiliate Abbas and the PA.

"This is not the right national position to take"

Khalid Sulayman,
Hamas member of parliament

Ehud Olmert, the interim Israeli prime minister, has said he will impose final borders if Hamas does not change course.
   
By withholding Palestinian tax revenues to deny funds to a Hamas-led government, Israel has also pushed the PA to seek international funds to pay public sector salaries.
   
Israel has accused Abbas of not fulfilling Palestinian obligations to disarm armed factions under a US-negotiated peace plan.

Israel's own commitments to freeze settlement building have not been met.

Fatah's ruling committee has never previously considered dismantling the PA created by the Palestine Liberation Organisation under the Oslo peace deals with Israel in 1994.
   
The original concept was to give 3.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza a say over their affairs until statehood.
   
Dissolving a body that Fatah had dominated until the election would require the PLO formally to hand responsibility for the territories back to Israel.

The PLO could then urge UN action to end Israel's occupation, advocates of the plan say.