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    Hamas refuses to take part in Palestinian elections

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    Islamist movement Hamas will not take part in the Palestinian elections set for January 24 and will ban them in the Gaza Strip it controls

    GAZA, October 23 (RIA Novosti) - Islamist movement Hamas will not take part in the Palestinian elections set for January 24 and will ban them in the Gaza Strip it controls, an advisor to the enclave's head of government said Friday.

    Earlier Friday, Palestinian National Authority head Mahmoud Abbas, who heads the ruling Fatah party controlling the West Bank, signed a decree to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in three months for Palestinian residents of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

    "If this is Abbas' position, it even deepens the split in society. The elections will be held only in the West Bank, and they will be neither democratic nor transparent. Of course, Hamas and some other factions will not go to these elections," Ahmed Yousef said.

    Yousef called Abbas' decision "a knife in the back" to the Egypt-mediated Palestinian reconciliation initiative that supposed the elections to be held in the summer of 2010. Reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas failed this week.

    In early September, Cairo put forward a document to reconcile the two largest Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, which split in June 2007 when Hamas took control of Gaza and pushed Fatah out of the enclave. The six previous rounds of reconciliation talks had resulted in failure.

    The document envisions general elections to be held in Gaza and the West Bank in the first half of 2010, a reform of Palestinian security services under the Egyptian control and the release of political prisoners by both factions.

    Fatah last week officially notified Egypt of its consent to implement the Palestinian unity plan, while Hamas asked for a delay in the signing of the document.

    Armed clashes between Fatah and Hamas came some 18 months after Hamas had won Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006. Fatah has renounced violence, while Hamas refuses to recognize Israel and reserves the right to use violence in its struggle to create a Palestinian state.

    Reconciliation talks resumed after Israel's assault on Gaza at the turn of the year, which saw some 1,300 Palestinians killed and 5,000 injured.

     

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