Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday called for early presidential and parliamentary elections during a key policy speech, saying that the Palestinian people must decide their fate.
Speaking to Fatah officials as well as Muslim and Christian religious leaders, Abbas compared the current power struggle between his Fatah party and the ruling Hamas movement to a "sinking ship".
No information was available as to when the early elections are slated to take place, with Abbas saying only they will be conducted as soon as possible."
The Palestinians are in a financial and security crisis, he said, and only a political solution will solve the problems.
Abbas announced that as president he has the authority to fire the government headed by Hamas, and that he will not allow the situation to deteriorate into a civil war. The president said he will meet with the central election committee to start preparations for the elections.
Parliamentary elections took place in January with the Islamist Hamas movement winning a majority of votes. Abbas, from the Fatah party, won the presidential election in 2005 after the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Violence between Fatah and Hamas has left at least six Palestinians dead and several dozen injured over the past week.