The Palestinian Authority on Tuesday announced it planned to hold local elections in October in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, angering Gaza's Islamist Hamas rulers.
"The Palestinian cabinet approved during its meeting today ... conducting local elections on 20 October 2012 in all local councils in the homeland," The PA said in a statement.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri responded: "Hamas regards this unilateral step as undermining reconciliation and a decision of escalation that would further complicate the file of reconciliation and therefore, Hamas holds the Fatah movement responsible for the consequences that may result."
Hamas and Fatah, which is dominant in the West Bank, have been enemies since they fought a brief civil war in 2007, leaving Hamas in control of Gaza and splitting the Palestinians geographically and politically.
Hamas suspended voter registration in the Gaza Strip last week in a major setback to the reconciliation effort.
The PA's announcement and Hamas's rejection of it may lead to the polls only being held in the West Bank, further deepening the two territories' political divorce.