Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was quoted on Monday as saying he expected presidential and parliamentary elections to be held May 2012.

Abbas’s remarks came during a visit to Austria, where he held talks with Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann and a number of senior government officials in Vienna.

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The PA’s official news agency, Wafa, quoted Abbas as saying “we expect the next elections to be held in May 2012.” Abbas met last week in Cairo with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal as part of his efforts to end the dispute between the two sides.

Following the meeting, Fatah and Hamas officials said the two men agreed on the need to hold elections next May.

Representatives of the parties are scheduled to meet again in Cairo next month to discuss preparations for the vote and other issues concerning the implementation of the Egyptian-brokered reconciliation accord announced earlier this year.

According to sources close to the two sides, Abbas and Mashaal agreed to postpone the formation of a unity government until after the elections.

Attempts to reach agreement over the establishment of a unity government failed due to Hamas’s refusal to accept current PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as head of the proposed coalition.

Abbas told his Austrian hosts the Palestinian application for membership in the UN was not aimed at isolating or delegitimizing Israel, Wafa reported.

The statehood bid is instead designed to salvage the two-state solution, the agency quoted Abbas as saying.

The PA president reiterated his readiness to resume peace talks with Israel only after the Israeli government accepts the pre-1967 lines as the basis for a two-state solution and freezes construction in the settlements.

Abbas also thanked Austria for voting in favor of admitting the PA to UNESCO and hailed the decision as being “supportive of peace and the two-state solution.”

Azzam al-Ahmed, head of the Fatah delegation to the talks with Hamas, denied on Monday that the two parties had agreed to delay the formation of a unity government.

He said Abbas and Mashaal reached understandings over the need to establish a Palestinian state within the pre- 1967 lines, with east Jerusalem as its capital, and maintain the period of calm with Israel.

Ahmed said Abbas and Mashaal also agreed to “activate” the “popular resistance” against Israel.

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