Ismail Haniyeh
Ismail Haniyeh Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said on Monday that his organization is ready to hold general elections for the Palestinian parliament and presidency.

Speaking at a press conference in Gaza, Haniyeh said Hamas is not afraid of running in the elections and would respect the results.

He called the elections a positive step on the path to restoring national unity and the restructuring of the Palestinian home which has been suffering from fragmentation and division since 2007.

Haniyeh met on Sunday with the chair of the election commission who was recently instructed by Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas to prepare the ground for a general election.

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.

The Fatah Central Committee has already announced that the 84-year-old Abbas will be its candidate in the election when it is held.