During a meeting with Palestinian leaders in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank Sunday, Abbas promised to hold polls, the first since 2006.
"I have decided, upon my return from this international gathering, to announce a date for the holding of general elections in Palestine - in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip," Abbas said in a speech at the 74th United Nations General Assembly in New York, two weeks ago.
Palestinian leaders had formed committees to "communicate with the election commission and factions such as Hamas and all factions, as well as with the Israeli authorities,” Abbas said adding that elections will take place in "the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.”
Fatah, the ruling party of the Palestinian government, and Hamas have been bitter opponents since 2006 when the later’s victory was overthrown by a U.S.-orchestrated coup.
Hamas was victorious in the 2006 legislative elections. This did not sit well with Israel and the U.S. due to Hamas’ pro-resistance agenda in the fight for Palestinian liberation, unlike Fateh's more compromising approach.
What ensued was a coup against a democratically elected government with U.S. backing. In 2007, then-U.S. President George Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and then-Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams devised a plan to overthrow Hamas using Fatah.
Hamas fled to Gaza after the coup and held its ground in the besieged enclave since then. Fatah controls the occupied West Bank. Since then, no elections have been held.
Hamas Saturday said in a statement that it did not "know what Abu Mazen means by general election,” using Abbas’s nickname.
Abbas had previously promised elections but without following through the promises. This time also, he has yet to specify a timeframe for elections.