The Palestinian Authority announced on Tuesday it was postponing local elections scheduled for July until October, giving time to organise the vote in the Gaza Strip, now under control of Hamas.
The delay had been expected following a long-expected unity deal in April between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement, which rules the West Bank, and Hamas, the group which has controlled Gaza since 2007.
Ghassan Khatib, spokesman for the Ramallah-based Palestinian administration, said delaying the vote until October 22 would allow time for the body which oversees Palestinian elections to organise voting in the Gaza Strip.
The delay means the election will be held after September, when Abbas has said he will ask the United Nations General Assembly to recognise a Palestinian state.
The local elections will give an indication of the popularity of Fatah and Hamas ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections, which the unity deal brokered by Egypt calls for within a year.
Representatives of Fatah and Hamas are holding talks this week in Cairo aimed at agreeing on a government of technocrats to run Palestinian affairs in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip until the new elections are held.
The rival groups have agreed that the government will not include any members of either Fatah or Hamas.
Municipal elections had been scheduled for the West Bank in 2010 but they were postponed after Fatah failed to agree on a list of candidates.
ReutersGüncelleme Tarihi: 17 Mayıs 2011, 15:33