JERUSALEM --The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said yesterday that he will resign if he is unable to carry out his program after legislative elections Jan. 25.
Abbas defended the inclusion in the election of the Islamic group Hamas, which refuses to give up its armed wing. Hamas is expected to do well, and even if it does not win a majority, it could make it much more difficult for Abbas and Israel to discuss peace or even to coordinate policies.
Hamas leaders refuse to accept the 1993 Oslo accords that set up the Palestinian Authority and are committed to the eventual eradication of Israel and a single state of Palestine.
"Who knows? Hamas may change its policy," Abbas said.
He predicted that the vote would be held "in a democratic and honest fashion" and said security forces would be able to vote 48 hours in advance so they can protect the ballot boxes.
There are fears that elements of the ruling Fatah faction might disrupt the voting to try to void the election and prevent Hamas from sharing power.
Abbas accused Israel of putting obstacles in the way of quiet on the day of the vote, with checkpoints and other security restrictions on freedom of movement in the West Bank. Israel has prevented some candidates from campaigning in East Jerusalem. An East Jerusalem news conference devoted to the elections was canceled yesterday when Israeli police arrested everyone scheduled to speak.
Abbas welcomed comments from the acting Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, who said Tuesday that, if elected, he would enter final-status negotiations with Abbas if the Palestinians dismantle militant and terrorist groups as required under the peace plan known as the "road map."