General elections were scheduled to be held in the State of Palestine between April and October 2014 in accordance with the Fatah–Hamas Gaza Agreement of April 2014. However, the elections have been delayed indefinitely.
Mahmoud Abbas was elected President of the Palestinian National Authority on 9 January 2005, for a four-year term ending on 9 January 2009. In September 2008 it was suggested that Abbas' term would be extended one year or that legislative council will be dissolved a year early in order to hold both elections at the same time. Hamas objected to holding simultaneous elections for president and legislative council, arguing that the presidential election should have been held in January 2009 and the parliamentary elections in 2010. Hamas also claimed that the speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Aziz al-Dewik, who is a Hamas member, became the Palestinian president after Abbas' term ended on 9 January 2009, until new elections are held.
Fatah argued that elections should have been held in January 2010, since the Palestinian election law calls for presidential and legislative council elections to be held simultaneously 4 years after the date of the later. Since the legislative council elections were held in 2006 (a year after the presidential election), new elections for both should have been held in January 2010. In reconciliation talks held in Egypt in March 2009, Hamas and Fatah agreed to hold the elections by 25 January 2010. In the end, because of the Fatah-Hamas conflict, nothing was done to resolve the issue of new elections.
In February 2010, local government elections were called in the West Bank and Gaza for July 2010. The Palestinian government decided to postpone the elections, arguing that it wanted to safeguard "national unity". In December 2010, the Palestinian High Court of Justice ruled that once cabinet calls elections, it does not have authority to cancel them. After being postponed several times the local government elections took place in October and November 2012 and covered only the West Bank.
Presidential and parliamentary election to the Palestinian Authority were postponed several times because of intra-Palestinian political disputes between Fatah and Hamas, from the original date of 17 July 2010.
In February 2011, following the resignation of Saeb Erekat as chief negotiator with Israel for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process following the release of the Palestine Papers, which were harshly critical of the PLO's concessions, the PLO Executive Committee announced intentions to hold elections before October. Abbas's followed the announcement with calls for "the spirit of change in Egypt" to inspire Palestinian unity. His aide Yasser Abed Rabbo said: "The Palestinian leadership decided to hold presidential and legislative elections within September. It urges all the sides to put their differences aside."
Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas, said that Abbas does not have the legitimacy to make the electoral call. "Hamas will not take part in this election. We will not give it legitimacy. And we will not recognize the results."
In October 2011, Abbas sent a proposal to Hamas for another general election, preferably to be held in early 2012. It was suggested that Hamas would be more willing to participate in another election following the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap, which boosted Hamas' standing in Gaza. In November 2011, an election date on 4 May 2012 was preliminarily agreed on. However, due to further bickering, the election could not be held by that date.
On 20 December 2013 Hamas called on the Palestinian Authority to form a six-month national unity government that would finally hold the long-delayed general election. Following the upgrade of the UN status of Palestine to non-member observer state, it was proposed that general state elections would follow in 2013, in line with unity talks of Fatah and Hamas. In April 2014 agreement was reached between Fatah and Hamas to form a unity government, which took place on 2 June 2014, and for general elections to take place within 6 months of the agreement.
In 2007, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Fatah party unilaterally changed the electoral laws of 2005 from being half proportionally elected and half constituency/first past the post-based to full proportional representation. He insisted he could issue the change by decree as long as the Palestinian Legislative Council was unable to convene.
The move was seen as a bid to lessen the chances of Hamas in the next election. Hamas, which controls the PLC, declared the move illegal.
Fatah renominated Abbas as their candidate for the next presidential elections in early June 2008, although reports in December suggested that he would not run for a second term. Rumours emerged again on 28 October 2009 of Abbas not running for another term; on 5 November he publicly announced his intention not to run for reelection, though he said he would stay until the next presidential election.