by Saud Abu Ramadan
RAMALLAH/GAZA, July 20 (Xinhua) -- Islamic Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip for more than two years, has set up on Monday several conditions to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territories due on Jan. 25, 2010.
Sami Abu Zuhri, the movement's spokesman in Gaza, said in a press statement that one of the conditions for holding the elections in the Palestinian territories on time, is to hold "in parallel" elections of the Palestinian National Council (PNC) of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
The PNC is the parliament in exile, which consists of more than600 members from both the Palestinian territories and the Diaspora. The last PNC session was held in Gaza in 1996, which annulled a provision in the PLO charter that called for the destruction of the state of Israel.
Abu Zuhri added in his statement that reconstruction of the Gaza Strip and ending the two-year Israeli blockade imposed on the enclave are two other major conditions for holding the elections in Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem.
"Releasing 800 Hamas prisoners in prisons of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) is also a condition for holding the elections in January next year," said Abu Zuhri, who also called for forming "elections court and a new central elections committee."
Earlier on Monday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the PNA and Fatah party leader, called on his rival Hamas movement to hold the Palestinian legislative and presidential elections in the Palestinian territories soon.
"We offer immediate presidential and parliamentary elections to end the issue of internal rift, and then the winner would lead," Abbas told reporters in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Monday. "Holding elections is the solution," he said.
Abbas' remarks were made as Egyptian-brokered dialogue between Hamas and Fatah is sill unable to come up with an agreement to restore political unity to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and the Fatah-ruled West Bank. Abbas' remarks seemed to be a new proposal to maintain the dialogue from collapse.
Since the beginning of the Cairo-hosted talks, Hamas and Fatah have discussed on forming a transitional unity government until holding the elections in January 2010. However, they still have substantial disputes over issues related to security and the electoral system.
Abu Zuhri went on saying that releasing all Hamas lawmakers and ministers who have been imprisoned in Israeli jails since 2006 "is also a condition for holding the elections," "and there has to be guarantees not to detain the new elected lawmakers."
Meanwhile, the left-wing group, the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) asserted on Monday that it rejects any postponement of the presidential and parliamentary elections due to be held on Jan. 25.
"Amid the ongoing rift between Fatah and Hamas, we don't know how the elections would be held. What is needed is to end the rift as soon as possible and hold the elections on time," said Jamil Mezher, a PFLP leader.
However, an independent Palestinian lawmaker ruled out that the elections will be held in the Palestinian territories on Jan. 25.
Hassan Khreisheh, the second deputy of the Palestinian parliament's speaker, said "I believe that elections won't be held on time due to the current deep disputes between rival Fatah and Hamas movements."
Seven rounds of inter-dialogue have been held in Cairo between the two rival groups since March, but they failed to overcome substantial differences related to unity government, security, and electoral laws.
Egypt had agreed with the two groups' conferees, who held a two-day evaluative session in Cairo on Saturday and Sunday, to delay the next round of dialogue to be held in Cairo on Aug. 25.
"If elections are not held on its agreed time on Jan. 25, the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) (parliament) would remain as it is until new elections are held," said Khreisheh.
Hamas movement had seized control of the Gaza Strip and routed by force Abbas' security forces in June 2007. The West Bank remained under Abbas and his premier Salam Fayyad's administration.
"The results of the inter-dialogue show that the parliament would remain for the longest term until the rival groups overcome their differences and agree on holding the elections," Khreisheh added.