No elections if Gaza doesn`t take part: Abbas

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that elections won`t be held by September as planned if the Gaza Strip`s Hamas rulers won`t allow balloting there.

Updated: Feb 17, 2011, 22:18 PM IST

Ramallah: Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday said that elections won`t be
held by September as planned if the Gaza Strip`s Hamas rulers
won`t allow balloting there.

Abbas` West Bank-based government called the
long-delayed presidential and parliamentary elections over the
weekend, but Hamas has said Gaza would not take part.

"Unless we are capable of holding elections in both
the West Bank and Gaza, then we will not hold elections,"
Abbas told reporters in Ramallah today.

Abbas governs the West Bank but lost control of Gaza
to the Islamic Hamas in a violent 2007 takeover. Several
attempts to reconcile the two factions have failed.

Abbas aides said the Palestinian president had not
backed down on his commitment to the vote. Senior adviser
Yasser Abed Rabbo said that if necessary, the Palestinian
Authority would find a "creative" way to circumvent any Hamas
opposition so Gazans would be able to take part.

Measures being explored include voting by Internet,
Palestinian officials have said. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu
Zuhri disputed Abbas` sincerity in calling for elections.

"This confusion of the Palestinian Authority reflects
the internal crisis it is going through and shows their call
for elections is not an honest one," he said.

The scheduling of the long-overdue vote was seen as a
response to widespread Mideast protests against autocratic
regimes that have toppled longtime dictators in Tunisia and
Egypt.

The Palestinian Authority has not held elections since
2006, leaving Abbas and members of parliament in office after
their elected terms ended.

Abbas` four-year term expired in 2009, though it has
been extended indefinitely. The parliament`s term expired in
2010, but the legislature remains in office, although its work
is hindered by the split between the territories.

PTI