The United States tentatively endorsed on Monday a call for early elections by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, a gamble he took to try to remove the Hamas government elected less than a year ago.
At the same time, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the Bush administration is trying to sell its plan to Congress to shore up security forces loyal to Abbas with money for salaries, training and logistical support.
McCormack also said it was unclear whether Abbas acted constitutionally in calling new presidential and parliamentary balloting as a way out of a violent confrontation between his Fatah movement and Hamas. He said Monday the vote could be within a few months, years ahead of schedule.
"My understanding of this is that - within the basic law - that this is not prohibited," McCormack said. "It's not specifically accounted for, but it's not prohibited."