Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday he was pressing ahead with January elections but held out hope that reconciliation with his Hamas rivals could still be achieved.
The move is seen made to force Hamas to accept Egyptian- reconciliation agreement that Islamist group postponned its decision because of Abbas' support to veto on U.N. Gaza report.
Abbas, 74, issued an order for new elections on Friday despite opposition by Hamas group which controls the Gaza Strip.
Hamas rejected the call and suggested it might hold its own ballot in the Gaza Strip, a move that could create two rival presidents, two parliaments and two prime ministers in Palestinian territories that Israeli captured territories separatethem from each other.
Speaking at a meeting of the Palestinian Central Council in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Abbas said he would go ahead with the Jan. 24 date set by the Palestinian Basic Law.
Parliamentary elections were last held in 2006, when Hamas defeated the once dominant Fatah.
He added that the presidential and parliamentary elections could be postponed until June, as proposed by Egypt in recent unity talks, if the factions could reach an agreement.
"Attempt against Hamas"
Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Fawzi Barhoum, said Abbas's speech in Ramallah was "full of lies, deceptions and contradictions".
"He attempted to turn public opinion against Hamas," Barhoum said.
Abbas has no clear successor and would be expected to lead his party into the campaign, seeking re-election. He dismissed accusations that the election decree was a political manoeuvre designed to strengthen his authority.
The Islamist movement challenges the legitimacy of Abbas's presidency, saying his mandate expired in January this year. It had already threatened to defy a January election call.
Hamas said it would not allow an election to take place on its territory in the absence of an accord with Fatah.