Deputy Prime Minister Nabil Shaath on Wednesday cited a Central Election Commission (CEC) statement on Monday that it no longer had enough time to prepare for a mid-July vote because of Abbas's refusal to ratify electoral law amendments passed by parliament.
   
"After the CEC decision, it will be impossible to hold elections on 17 July. President Abbas will send the bill back to parliament (for changes)," Shaath said.

Hamas, gaining popularity at the expense of the ruling Fatah party, has demanded that the vote be held on time.

Factional tensions

A delay could worsen factional tensions and complicate Abbas's effort to maintain peace and revive peace talks with Israel. 

"If the elections are postponed by a few weeks it won't be a big deal"

Nabil Shaath,
Palestinian deputy prime minister

Abbas has insisted that the election will go ahead as scheduled, but Shaath said that was no longer possible.

"If the elections are postponed by a few weeks it won't be a big deal," Shaath said.

A formal announcement of a delay would have to be made by Abbas, who is on a visit to the United States.

Hamas had no immediate comment, but its officials said earlier that they would see any delay in the parliamentary vote as a Fatah manoeuvre to cling to power.