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Palestinians Delay Vote on Elections

Palestinian lawmakers said Saturday that parliament will delay for at least several days a planned vote on an election law seen crucial to holding the July 17 legislative elections on time.

"Tomorrow there will be no meeting," but there is talk about holding it between Monday and Thursday, legislator Hanan Ashrawi (search) said.

She added that the July 17 parliamentary balloting "probably" could be held on time despite the delay in passing the election law.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas (search) has insisted that the July vote would go ahead on time. But the Hamas militant group, which is contesting legislative elections for the first time, suspects Abbas' ruling Fatah movement wants to postpone the vote, for fear Hamas would make a strong showing and undercut Fatah's power in parliament.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri (search) said if the balloting weren't held on time, then Hamas would have to rethink its commitment to an informal cease-fire with Israel. Hamas agreed to the de facto truce on the understanding Abbas would pursue reforms in the Palestinian Authority.