Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced parliamentary and presidential elections- the first in 15 years-will take place later this year-legislative elections on May 22 and a presidential vote on July 31.

The Palestinians’ last parliamentary ballot in 2006 resulted in a surprise win by Hamas, widening an internal political rift that led to the group’s seizure of the Gaza Strip in 2007 and contributed to a long delay in setting further elections.

A statement from Abbas's office said they expected east Jerusalem to be part of the election.

Hamas  welcomed the announcement.

KAN's Mark Weiss asked Middle East strategic intelligence analyst Avi Melamed why President Abbas had decided to hold elections at this juncture?