Hamas says that after Friday it will not recognize Mahmoud Abbas as the Palestinian president, but says its top priority is the Gaza situation.
Maan news reported that a senior official in Hamas' political wing, Musa Abu Marzouq, said in an interview with Sawt al-Aqsa radio in Gaza, that Abbas' rule will no longer be legal under Palestinian law.
"The president's term ends today (Friday). (Because) we are living under exceptional circumstances, Hamas should set up other priorities, it has to put all internal differences aside to confront the offensive."
Abbas and the Palestinian Authority have not yet commented on the issue.
The Israeli offensive in Gaza has overshadowed the internal strife between Hamas and Fatah, but tensions remain.
Hamas won parliamentary elections in 2006 but Abbas then fired Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh's unity government after Hamas seized power in the Gaza Strip in June 2007. Hamas won the election, with 74 seats to the ruling-Fatah's 45, providing Hamas with the majority of the 132 available seats.
Until now, Hamas has recognized Abbas as the elected president while disputing the legitimacy of an emergency government the president appointed in 2007 instead of the unity government.
In mid 2008, Abbas' government unilaterally declared that the president's term would be extended beyond its formal end-date of 9 January. Hamas has rejected this move, citing the Palestinian Basic Law.
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