On Tuesday, the Jerusalem Post reported that Israel and the United States were planning to put pressure on the Palestinian Authority (PA) to postpone the elections to "prevent the strengthening of Hamas".

The newspaper, however, did not quote any Israeli or US officials.

"This is pure disinformation. The Palestinian Authority will not allow any foreign party, including the US and Israel, to interfere in our internal affairs," Majdi al-Khalidi, a high-ranking Palestinian Foreign Ministry official, said on Tuesday.

Al-Khalidi told Aljazeera.net the PA was determined to hold legislative elections on time.

He said any US pressure on the PA for a postponement would expose Washington's "moral duplicity" in the region.

Israeli reaction

An Israeli government spokesman also denied that Israel was trying to push for a delay.

"We do not interfere with Palestine's internal affairs, and Palestinian elections are an internal affair of Palestine. We do not intend to tell the Palestinian people whom to elect or not to elect," Amira Oron, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said.

She said while Israel was not infatuated with Hamas, it could not prevent Hamas from taking part in Palestinian elections or joining the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

Warrior's rest

Israeli officials have said on several occasions that they would want to see Hamas morph into a purely political organisation by abandoning armed struggle against the Israeli occupation.

However, Hamas leaders have consistently asserted that armed struggle and resistance cannot be discontinued as long as the occupation remains.

Some Hamas leaders have described the present calm in the occupied territories as a "warrior's rest".

On Monday, PA President Mahmud Abbas reaffirmed his commitment to hold the elections on 25 July and bring about far-reaching political, security and administrative reforms.