Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on Friday for presidential and parliamentary elections on Jan. 24. Hamas has immediately rejected the election call and suggested they could hold their own ballot in Gaza Strip.
According to Reuters, a senior Palestinian official in Ramallah said Abbas had decided to call for the vote after the factions failed to reach a unity deal in over a year of Egyptian-brokered talks. "All concerned parties, the head and members of the election commission ... must execute the terms of this decree," a presidential statement said.
In Gaza, a senior source in Hamas said his government was now studying the possibility of holding an election in the Strip separately, also on January 24, 2010, to counter what he termed Abbas' "unilateral" move.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called the decision "a fatal blow to reconciliation efforts and a prolonging of divisions". "Abbas has succumbed to American pressures not to reconcile with Hamas unless we recognised the Quartet conditions," Abu Zuhri said.
Senior Hamas politician Mushir Al-Masri called Abbas' election decree "a lethal stab" at reconciliation.