Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday he will not seek re-election in a January ballot because of the lack of progress in peace talks with Israel, Palestinian officials said.
Hamas’ Damascus-based political leader Khaled Meshal said the move to hold elections regardless of whether a Palestinian reconciliation deal is reached beforehand is “illegal and unlawful.”
“Reconciliation first and then we go to elections,” he said.
The decision to hold balloting in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza satisfies a legal requirement that Abbas decree elections, but binds him to a vote that many see as unlikely to happen, given Hamas opposition.
“Abu Mazen wants to make Hamas come back to the Palestinian political scene, but he wants them to do so after recognizing his legitimacy and leadership, not as competitors and opposition,” Masri said,