SANTIAGO - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday he plans to stay on in his post until the next election is held and that he would be ready to hold the vote as soon as consensus was reached with Islamist group Hamas.
Abbas repeated he would not run for re-election.
He said Palestinian authorities were planning for a new election, which he last week confirmed would be postponed from the scheduled date of January 24. If consensus was reached with Hamas in the next month or two, then elections could be held immediately thereafter, he added.
At any time we have the election I will go away and will not run, Abbas told reporters in the Chilean capital Santiago when asked if he would stay on until a vote is held.
His comment appeared to dispel fears of a vacuum once the current legislature and his term as president expire on January 25.
Now we are planning for the new elections, he said during a visit to Latin America to muster support against Israel building settlements on land occupied in the 1967 Middle East war. If there will be any consensus between us and Hamas after one month or two months, we are ready ... to conduct the elections immediately.
The Central Election Commission this month announced it had advised Abbas to put off the election because Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip where some 1.5 million Palestinians live, had warned it would not allow them to vote.
Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007. The Islamist group disputes Abbas' legitimacy.
Israel announced on Wednesday it was limiting settlement construction for 10 months to try to revive peace negotiations with the Palestinians, who said the step fell short of their terms for talks.
Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Abbas, said earlier on Wednesday the leader insisted on a complete settlement freeze, in Jerusalem foremost, before any resumption of talks.
(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)