Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said in a statement that “the Palestinian cabinet, in consultation with president Mahmoud Abbas, decided to postpone the local elections for (up to) four months”.
The Islamist movement Hamas which controls the Gaza Strip rejected the postponement and said the delay and the decision not to hold the polls in Gaza were Fatah manoeuvrings to avoid an electoral defeat.
Hamas, labelled a terrorist organisation by the United States and European Union, had planned to support lists of candidates not officially linked to the movement to avoid potential sanctions if they won.
It was not clear if Hamas would still attempt to do so.
The elections, originally set for October 8, were initially to choose municipal councils in some 416 cities and towns in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
That dispute led to Monday’s decision in which the high court ordered the elections to be held only in the West Bank and not in Gaza.
It said that the Hamas-controlled judiciary in Gaza did not have the necessary “guarantees” in place for holding the polls.
An official with the electoral commission said authorities now planned to restart the process from the beginning — meaning that candidate lists already registered could be wiped out.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told reporters that the group opposed that and wanted the process restarted at the point where it was stopped.
This year’s vote was planned with 81-year-old Abbas under heavy political pressure as opinion polls have suggested most Palestinians would like him to step down.
Some analysts saw Abbas’s decision to call for the municipal elections as a failed gambit since he may have been hoping Hamas would repeat its 2012 boycott.