The West Bank-based Palestinian government on Monday called local elections for July in a move the Hamas group said was illegitimate.
West Bank Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's cabinet decided to hold the municipal elections on July 17. The President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement welcomed the move and said it would take part.
Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said Fayyad and his government were illegitimate and not in a position to call a vote. Any elections could only take place after national reconciliation, spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told Reuters.
Hamas won a parliamentary election in January 2006, ending a near-monopoly on power by the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and its dominant faction, Fatah. The government Hamas formed was subject to a crippling boycott by Western aid donors, leading to a unity government between Hamas and Fatah in 2007.
Legislative and presidential elections called in January by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of Fatah, were cancelled due to a ban by Hamas on participation in the Gaza Strip.
An Egyptian plan aimed at ending the Palestinian division set legislative and presidential elections for June. Fatah leader Abbas, who is supported by Cairo, signed the document. Hamas has refused to, citing reservations.
The Palestinians last held local elections in 2005, shortly before a legislative election in which Hamas defeated Fatah.
ReutersGüncelleme Tarihi: 09 Şubat 2010, 08:31