The Palestinian election commission has started to update voter registers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to pave the way for new elections — and reconciliation between the rival Fatah and Hamas factions. Monday’s registration drive is taking place both in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and the West Bank, which is governed by the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority. The election commission says voter registration will continue until Feb. 18.
Hamas on Thursday invited the Palestinian electoral commission chief to come to Gaza to discuss restarting voter registration, in a key step towards Palestinian reconciliation. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya “called Central Elections Commission chief Hanna Nasser and invited him to Gaza for talks about voter registration,” a statement said. Hamas and the rival Fatah movement have been taking tentative steps to restart long-stalled reconciliation efforts, seeking to implement an agreement signed in Cairo in 2011 that was intended to lead to new elections.
Palestinians in the West Bank will head to the polls tomorrow day for the first time in nearly seven years, casting their ballots in local elections. But the long-delayed vote will only be held in the West Bank, with the first stage of voting to take place in 91 of the territory’s 353 municipalities. In another 181 localities, candidates were appointed unopposed, with elections to be held in the remaining areas at a date which has yet to be set, the Central Elections Commission (CEC) said.
The Palestinian government in the West Bank called Tuesday for local elections to be held in the West Bank and Gaza on October 20, the first since 2006, an official said. “The Palestinian government decided today during its meeting to hold the local, municipal and district elections on October 20th throughout the Palestinian territory,” the Palestinian official told AFP on condition of anonymity. The decision followed two such calls for local elections last year, with the Palestinian government in the West Bank seeking to hold the vote first in July 2011 and then in October 2011. It was at first scheduled for July 9, but after a surprise reconciliation deal between the rival Fatah and the Hamas movements, the date was put back to October 22.
The Hamas-run government in Gaza suspended the work of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission on Monday, a day before it was to start registering new voters, abruptly halting one of the few tangible steps toward reconciliation with the rival Fatah party, based in the West Bank. The move pushed off the prospect of presidential and parliamentary elections. Though considered long overdue, no date had been set for them. The latest delay added a new complication in a reconciliation process that began more than a year ago with an accord brokered by Egypt that was described as historic but has mainly resulted in new rounds of talks, more documents and broken deadlines.
The Palestinian Authority and Hamas on Monday took steps toward holding elections more than a year after signing an agreement that was supposed to end five years of internal strife and division. Hanna Nasser, the chairman of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission, met in the Gaza Strip with Hamas leader there, Ismail Haniyeh, and later said the panel will immediately begin work on updating its Gaza voter registry. The effort will take at least six weeks to complete, he said. Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since its troops defeated forces loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in June 2007, agreed last week to allow the West Bank-based commission to start work on updating the Gaza voter registry. At the same time, the Palestinian Authority president is expected to start consultations with Hamas on forming a new government headed by Abbas, which is expected to be announced in 10 days when he meets with Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal in Cairo. They also are expected to announce a date for the long-overdue presidential and legislative elections in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, which are expected to take place in six months.
President Abbas has been put forward as a candidate for prime minster of an interim government, a Ma’an source said Sunday. The proposal was made as Abbas and Hamas chief-in-exile Khalid Mashaal agreed to form a unity government during a Sunday meeting in the Qatari capital. The proposal was reportedly made by Qatar’s Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa and endorsed by Hamas, Israeli news site Ynet said. Sources close to Abbas, who wished to remain anonymous, told Ma’an that the decision is not certain and that the role of prime minister could be an added burden on the President.
The Palestinian National Authority is mulling whether to chance presidential and parliamentary elections slated for May 4, after they say that Hamas is failing to adhere to reconciliation commitments “If the status quo remains between Fatah and Hamas regarding the reconciliation standstill, the PNA will cancel the elections,” an official in the authority has told Gulf News.
Palestine: Hamas says Palestinians quietly decide to keep rival governments until elections, Fatah denies | The Washington Post
The Palestinians’ rival leaders have quietly decided to keep their respective governments in the West Bank and Gaza in place until elections, a senior Hamas figure told The Associated Press. This proposal would remove a major obstacle to efforts to reconcile the factions: the need to form an interim unity government.
A representative of Hamas’ rival, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, denied that such a deal was struck. Abbas envoy Azzam al-Ahmed insisted there was no agreement and “no possibility of holding elections without a unity government.”
Al Fatah and Hamas, the two rival Palestinian factions, appear to have reached an accord today to hold inter-Palestinian elections in May for the formation of a provisional government.This should be preceded by the resignation of the current Prime Minister of the Palestine National Authority, (PNA), Salam Fayyad. The story was revealed to Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper by Azzam al-Ahmad, one of the Al Fatah negotiators.
There is yet to be official confirmation of the news, and this may not come until the last word is spoken by the leaders of the two rival formations: Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and Khaled Meshaal of Hamas – at their next meeting, which several sources say will be in Cairo next week.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will present an offer of general elections to rival Hamas movement, a senior official said Wednesday. Abbas will present the offer to Khaled Mashaal, the Damascus- based leader of the Palestinian Islamic movement, said the official, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Executive Committee, on condition of anonymity.
The elections have often been seen as the only way to restore unity to the Palestinian territories, mainly the West Bank, where Abbas’ Fatah party holds sway, and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Abbas wants the elections to be as soon as possible, preferably at the beginning of next year.
Fatah Central Committee Member Mahmoud Al-Aloul Tuesday justified the Palestinian Authority’s decision to postpone local elections saying it came at the request of Hamas in order to hold elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip at the same time.
President Mahmoud Abbas issued a ruling on Monday postponing the elections “until appropriate circumstances allowing holding it nationwide exist.”
Aloul said that Hamas asked for the postponement until reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas is reached and the West Bank and Gaza Strip are reunited under one authority so that elections can be held in both regions at the same time.