Elections in Gaza Strip May Be Postponed

The Palestinian Election Commission has recommended to postpone the presidential and parliamentary polls scheduled for January.

Thursday Hanna Nassar, the director of the electoral body, said that the recommendation had been communicated to Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority.

Abbas, under Palestinian law, is mandated to take the final decision.

The recommendation for postponement was somewhat inevitable after the Palestinian group Hamas said it would not not allow elections to be held in the Gaza Strip, Aljazeera.net reports.

It was also reported, in a press conference held in Ramallah, Nasser accused the Islamic Hamas movement, which controls the Gaza Strip, of putting obstacles to prevent the elections from taking place.

"Hamas has rejected to receive the committee in its official capacity in Gaza to prepare for holding the elections," Nasser said.

Abbas has called for presidential and parliamentary elections to be held on Jan. 24, 2010 in a bid to end internal split and restore Palestinian unity after Hamas rejected an Egyptian proposal to settle the differences.

The political split in the Palestinian territories resulted from Hamas' seizure of Gaza by force in 2007. Since then, Abbas has consolidated its rules in the West Bank, Xinhua reports.

Meanwhile, Wednesday Abbas said that he was still interested in patching up his differences with Hamas.

"We want reconciliation and we want to reunite our people and homeland," he said during a ceremony marking the fifth anniversary of Yasser Arafat's death. "Hamas exists and it will stay. Hamas came through elections and now we are offering Hamas elections once again."

Referring to his decision last week not to run for another term in a new election, Abbas said: "I don't want to talk again about my desire not to run in the election. But I want to say that there are other options that I will take in accordance with the developments."

If Abbas agrees to postpone the vote, he could remain in office indefinitely, Jerusalem Post reports.

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