Mohammed Shihab, one of the leaders of the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip, claims that Israel is sending messages threatening to arrest Hamas leaders in Judea and Samaria if they decide to run in the Palestinian parliamentary general election.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Shihab accused Israel of "persecuting" Islamic activists and arresting several Hamas members in Ramallah and Al-Bireh.
"The threats of the occupying forces and the repeated arrests of the leaders of the resistance will only add to the adherence of our Palestinian people to the spirit of the resistance as the strategic path," Shihab said.
He called on the international community and human rights organizations to put pressure on Israel not to interfere in the Palestinian election process.
Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas recently issued a decree ordering general elections in PA-assigned territories.
The decree states that legislative elections will take place on May 22. A “presidential” election will take place on July 31. It sets a deadline of August 31 for establishing the Palestinian National Council.
Abbas' term as PA chairman was meant to expire in 2009, but he has remained in office in the absence of elections.
No PA elections have taken place since 2006 and similar initiatives in the past have failed to result in elections.
Hamas and Fatah have been at odds since Hamas violently took over Gaza in a bloody coup in 2007, but the two organizations recently reached a comprehensive agreement on holding elections.