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Palestinian Authority Sets Election Date, Hamas Rejects It

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, center, gestures during a rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Jan 25, 2011

The Palestinian Authority has announced plans to hold long-overdue elections for local councils in July, but the plan was quickly rejected by Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian Authority spokesman Ghassan Khatib said Tuesday the Cabinet had called for voters go to the polls in the West Bank and Gaza on July 9. The elections would be the first in the Palestinian territories since 2006.

However, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the Palestinian Authority's call for elections was not valid and Hamas would not participate. He said there could be no voting until the two governments are reconciled.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' four-year term expired in 2009, but has been extended indefinitely. Khatib said the July voting will only take place in the West Bank if Hamas refuses to cooperate.

Analysts say anti-government protests in Egypt prompted Palestinian officials to set the election date.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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