A leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas has suggested the possibility of future negotiations with Israel through a third party.

Mahmoud al-Zahar Monday said "negotiation is not a taboo."

The comments come two days before Palestinian parliamentary elections, as surveys show almost even support for Hamas and Fatah, the political movement of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.

Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and its military wing has been involved in scores of attacks.

Meanwhile, Israeli military officials say their troops will avoid entering Palestinian towns during the next few days so as not to interfere with the elections - unless it is necessary to foil attacks on Israelis.

Israeli troops arrested 24 Palestinians, including members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, in raids overnight.

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