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Palestinians Announce Plans for Presidential Elections

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

The Palestinian Authority has announced plans to hold long-overdue presidential and legislative elections by September.

An aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced the timetable for the vote at a Saturday conference. President Abbas' four-year term expired in 2009, but had been extended indefinitely.

Hamas leaders, who rule the Gaza Strip, have rejected the plans. Earlier this month, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said there could be no voting until the two governments are reconciled.

Meanwhile, the chief Palestinian negotiator in peace talks with Israel is resigning. The French news agency (AFP) says Saeb Erekat tendered his resignation as a result of information leaked in documents last month.

In late January, Erekat accused the Al-Jazeera television network of putting his life in danger by leaking documents saying he offered concessions during peace talks with Israel. The network said the documents showed the Palestinian government was offering far-reaching concessions while getting little in return.

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

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