Hamas threatens to boycott Abbas elections speech

The Hamas-led Palestinian Authority Cabinet said Friday it would boycott a speech by Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas where he is expected to threaten early elections. In a press release, the Cabinet said it has decided to reject the invitation to attend the speech on Saturday to protest the "disastrous and bloody" events of recent days. Clashes between Hamas and Abbas' rival Fatah faction culminated on Thursday with a botched attempt on the life of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas. "To declare a boycott of the president's speech is ... a dangerous escalation, especially at this time," said Saeb Erekat, a senior Abbas aide. Hamas swept parliamentary elections in January, ending more than a decade of Fatah domination and drawing down crushing sanctions from the West and Israel for refusing to recognize the Israel and renounce violence. Hamas claims early elections are illegal and has likened the prospect to a coup.