Egypt is mulling tendering a proposal to delay the Palestinian parliamentary elections slated for January 2006, due to their belief that Hamas will have a strong showing in these elections, the second since the Palestinian Authority was established in 1995, Israeli sources reported.

It is likely that this proposal would not be unveiled until the municipal elections of the some major Palestinian cities, including Gaza, Nablus and Hebron, are held, to test how victorious Hamas will be.

Fatah had better showing the third round of the elections than the first two, after it was losing ground to Hamas.

Analyst downplayed the victory of Fatah in the thirds round since it involved mainly small communities, and attributed this victory to the fact that Israel arrested many Hamas activists including candidates before the elections.

Israel had strongly objected to Hamas taking part in the Palestinian elections, while the American Administration regarded this as a Palestinian process.  Yet, the U.S. administration and the Quartet has requested Hamas to disarm prior to joining the elections.

On his part, the chair of the political bureau of Hamas, Khaled Masha’al said ‘Hamas has the right to be engaged in political activities and at the same time in resistance against the occupation, including the armed resistance.’

Masha’al’s comments came in a press conference that followed a meeting of the Palestinian factions in Damascus on Tuesday, which joined him with the chair of the ruling Fatah party and other heads of Palestinian factions.