Palestinian Islamic Jihad announced on Monday that it would boycott local Palestinian elections scheduled for October 8, calling instead for national unity.
“We will not participate in the municipal and local elections,” the terrorist group said in a statement.
The movement, a splinter and sometimes rival of the Islamist terror group Hamas which runs the Gaza Strip, said the elections were not an “appropriate way out of the Palestinian national impasse.”
Instead, the group called on Hamas to reconcile with its rival Fatah, the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas.
Hamas announced last month that it would take part in the elections after boycotting the last vote four years ago.
Hamas and Fatah agreed on a unity deal in April 2014 that was supposed to lead to a technocratic government taking over administration of both Gaza and the West Bank.
However, Hamas never accepted relinquishing its authority in Gaza, and the two sides remain at loggerheads.
Hamas has ruled Gaza since a bloody 2007 coup that ousted Fatah from the coastal territory. The terror group has been a frequent critic of Fatah over the PA’s cooperation with Israel on security matters. PA security forces frequently arrest Hamas members in the West Bank, where Fatah is a dominant power fending off Hamas attempts to increase its influence.
Last week, Abbas said the rival factions would hold another round of reconciliation talks in the coming weeks, in a bid to mend fences, after nearly a decade of hostility.
According to local opinion polls and political experts, Hamas — which has been enjoying unusual popularity in the West Bank and remains well-supported in Gaza — is expected to make significant gains in the October elections for local councils.