Candidates for upcoming Palestinian legislative elections began signing up Saturday. The race is likely to see the ruling Fatah party face a strong challenge from the Islamic group, Hamas.
Voting primaries this past week for Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party were beset with disruptions from gunmen, some with links to Fatah.
Fatah's younger generation is challenging the old guard, many of whom are seen as tainted by corruption.
Israel and the United States are worried Hamas will do well in the January poll, threatening the peace process.
In a separate development, Mr. Abbas met Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican Saturday, and invited the pontiff to visit Jerusalem, considered the holy land by followers of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Elsewhere, Palestinian officials say Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinians in separate incidents in the Gaza Strip.
Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.