Mahmoud Abbas May 25, 2011 (AP)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah in May, 2011. Photo by AP
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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas delayed municipal elections for a third time yesterday, without setting a new date.

Palestinian democracy has been crippled since the militant Islamic group Hamas violently overran the Gaza Strip in 2007, forming a rival government to Abbas' West Bank-based PA.

Abbas has overstayed his own term and is ruling the West Bank by decree. Municipal elections were initially scheduled for July 2010.

Abbas said yesterday that he wanted to make sure elections took place in both Palestinian territories.

"We have decided to postpone the local elections until better conditions are available, and to enable the election commission to work in all parts of the country," he said in a decree.

This is the same reason he gave for delaying the voting the last time, from July 9 to October 22.

In the meantime, Hamas-Fatah talks on implementing a recent reconciliation pact have stalled.

A senior Hamas official in Gaza agreed that elections should not be held until the reconciliation deal takes effect.

"We agreed in the Cairo (reconciliation ) agreement that all elections, local and parliamentary, would be held after forming the government," said Ismail Alashkar. "We welcome Abbas' decree postponing them."