Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he has "no intention" of running for re-election in a presidential vote he has called for January.
In a televised address Thursday, Mr. Abbas said his declaration is not up for debate. Senior members of Mr. Abbas' Fatah party have been trying to persuade him to change his mind and take part in the election.
Mr. Abbas expressed frustration with the lack of progress in the peace process with Israel. He has threatened to step down in the past as a negotiating tactic. The Palestinian president said his goal of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict faces serious problems, but remains possible, in his view.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday she hopes to work with Mr. Abbas "in any new capacity" he chooses in order to achieve that goal. Clinton said she spoke with Mr. Abbas about his political future when the two met last Saturday in Abu Dhabi.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Washington has "tremendous" respect for Mr. Abbas for improving the lives of Palestinians. Mr. Abbas has called for parliamentary and presidential elections to be held in January in the West Bank, where he is based, and the Gaza Strip. But it is not clear if the elections can proceed because Hamas militants who control Gaza have vowed not to participate.
In his address, Mr. Abbas criticized Hamas for refusing to sign a reconciliation deal with his Fatah party that Egypt mediated. Hamas won a majority in Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006 and seized control of Gaza a year later. Mr. Abbas expressed "surprise" with Washington's s recent call for Israelis and Palestinians to renew negotiations without conditions. He has demanded a complete stop to Jewish settlement construction on land the Palestinians want for a state before peace talks begin.
Earlier this year, the Obama administration appeared to endorse Mr. Abbas' position, by calling on Israel to freeze all settlement construction to help revive the peace process. Mr. Abbas has led the Palestinian peace effort with Israel since becoming president of the Palestinian Authority in January 2005.