Abbas: Hamas must allow Palestinian vote

By Jennifer Lipman, February 17, 2011

Palestinians will be denied their first opportunity to elect their leaders in five years if Hamas refuses to allow voting in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said today.

Palestinian Authority elections are set to take place this July, a year after they were postponed because the terrorist organisation refused to participate.

But a Hamas spokesman has already signalled the group’s decision to block this year’s vote.

Mr Abbas said: “Unless we are capable of holding elections in both the West Bank and Gaza, then we will not hold elections."

It has been six years since the Palestinian Authority held local elections, and more than five since Hamas won the popular vote in legislative elections.

That result triggered internal strife, as Hamas and Mr Abbas’ party Fatah battled for control.

They formed a unity government but it collapsed in June 2007 when Hamas seized power in the Gaza Strip.

Last updated: 5:00pm, February 17 2011