Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Wednesday congratulated US President Barack Obama on his re-election and called on him to pursue Middle East peace efforts.

Abbas "congratulated US President Barak Obama on his re-election as US president for a second term," said a statement carried by official news agency WAFA.

"The president hopes that Obama continues his efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East."

Direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been on hold since late September 2010, when they ground to a halt over settlement construction.

While Obama's administration sought to renew an Israeli partial settlement freeze to push talks forward, it also opposed both a Palestinian bid for full UN membership and the admission of Palestine as a UNESCO member.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said he hoped Obama's re-election would mean the creation of a Palestinian state in the next four years.

"We hope that a Palestinian state will be implemented in Obama's next term," he told AFP.

Erakat pointed out that Israel had announced new settlement tenders as Americans were going to the polls on Tuesday, and called on Obama to take swift action to prevent continuing Israeli settlement activity.

He also urged the new administration to back Palestinian plans to seek enhanced status at the United Nations General Assembly, where they are expected to request non-member status later this month.

"We hope Obama will stop settlements immediately and not stop the Palestinians from going to the UN to get non-member status because non-member status will protect the peace process and the two-state solution," Erakat said.

In Gaza, the ruling Hamas movement reacted cautiously to Obama's win, with spokesman Taher al-Nunu saying the group was "waiting to see if there will be a positive change in Obama's policy or not."

"We hope that Obama commits to legitimate Palestinian rights and stops his policy of double standards and bias towards Israel."