Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has rejected calls from within his Fatah faction for the legislative elections of January 25 to be postponed because of increasing lawlessness in the Gaza Strip. About 200 police officers shut down several government buildings in Rafah on Monday, demanding the arrest the killer of one of their colleagues in a gun battle in Gaza City last week. Abbas has said he will postpone the election if Israel bars voting in Arab East Jerusalem. In his New Year address he appealed to militants to continue their ceasefire with Israel. Various groups have said that as of January 1 they are not abiding by their pledge to ensure a “period of calm”.Islamist movement Hamas has said it could not accept any delay in the vote. A group of European Union election observers are already in the Palestinian territories. The head of the 32-strong team, Veronique De Keyser, says that following recent high-profile kidnappings of foreigners in Gaza, she will be “assessing the situation hour by hour”. Meanwhile, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has declined to comment on an Israeli newspaper report that he plans to abandon the US-backed “road map” to peace and instead seek Washington’s blessing for annexing occupied land in the West Bank.
Abbas may delay poll if Israel stops Jerusalem voting