Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas Reuters

Hussein al-Sheikh, a member of the Fatah Central Committee and the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) “civil affairs minister”, said on Tuesday that the PA election committee is still holding discussions, and once that process is over, "President" Mahmoud Abbas will set the date for the parliamentary and presidential elections.

Writing on Twitter, al-Sheikh said that the only candidate of the Fatah movement in the presidential election will be the 84-year-old Abbas.

The PA parliament has not met since 2007, when Hamas violently seized control of Gaza from Abbas’ Fatah faction.

Hamas and Fatah have been at odds since the 2007 coup and all attempts to reconcile the warring sides have failed.

Fatah and Hamas later signed a reconciliation deal, under which the PA was to have resumed full control of Gaza, but the deal hit “obstacles” and has never been implemented.

Abbas' term as PA chairman was meant to expire in 2009, but he has remained in office in the absence of elections.

In his recent speech at the UN General Assembly, Abbas renewed a pledge to hold fresh parliamentary elections, but he has made similar pledges in the past and failed to go through with elections.

In order to hold a general election, Abbas needs the agreement of Hamas to resume control of Gaza. Hamas is opposed to holding general elections that are not part of a comprehensive reform of PA institutions, including the Palestinian National Council, and it also demands that a new leadership be established in which Hamas and Islamic Jihad representatives will be integrated.

Hamas's insistence on joining the PLO is interpreted as an attempt to take control of the PLO from within through an election process.