Oct. 29, 2009, midnight
Following President Mahmoud ABBAS' surprise call last Friday for Presidential and legislative elections on January 24, representatives of Hamas this week said they would boycott the polls and punish Palestinians who vote in or help administer the elections. ABBAS announced the elections after Hamas and his Fatah party failed to agree on terms for the reunification of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. While the two regions jointly comprise the Palestinian Territories, ABBAS is based in the West Bank, and Hamas has de facto control of Gaza. Hamas says ABBAS has no authority call elections, and they claim his leadership is illegal in light of 2006 elections in which they won a majority of seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council.