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.
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.