Hamas to boycott Palestinian elections


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Hamas will not allow the Palestinian Authority to prepare for elections in the Gaza Strip.

The group on Wednesday also ordered Gaza residents not to take part in the election, saying it would punish Palestinians who participate in the election or arranging them.

Hamas and other radical Palestinian factions have said they will boycott the poll, which Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared for Jan. 24.

A Hamas spokesman on Wednesday declared the P.A. Central Elections Committee an "illegal body." Abbas’ term expired earlier this year and he has threatened not to run for re-election given the moribund state of the peace process with Israel.

The Hamas government in Gaza said it would continue to oppose the elections until it reached reconciliation with Abbas’ Fatah Party.

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