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Palestinian election body urges vote delay, reflecting political disarray

The Palestinian Election Commission said Thursday it was "impossible" to organize the vote by Jan. 24, the date decreed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas last week.

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The Palestinian Election Commission on Thursday said it would be unable to carry out January elections called for by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas last week, recommending that they be held later.

"We have decided to address a letter to [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas telling him of our inability to conduct the mission of holding elections," said Hanna Nasser, the head of elections commission, in a press conference in Ramallah on Thursday, which was carried live by local and Arab satellite channels. "We have faced obstacles in the Gaza Strip and in Jerusalem. We've sat with all the political factions and the picture has become clear after these meetings: Elections are impossible to hold."

The decision of the commission, a body that is officially independent Mr. Abbas's government, reflects a panoply of internal and external factors that make it, in the words of the head of the election commission, "impossible" to bring Palestinians to the polls in just over two months. Abbas was expected to accept its recommendation.

Hamas refused to cooperate

The Palestinian political arena has been in a state of disarray since last week, when Abbas announced that he would not seek another term in elections that he had decreed should take place on Jan. 24. Abbas cited a number of frustrations: his Fatah party's ongoing state of internecine conflict with Hamas in Gaza, Israel's stance vis-à-vis peace negotiations, and the Obama administration's failure to broker a breakthrough.


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