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.
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.
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on Wednesday called on the Central Elections Commission (CEC) to start preparing for holding the general elections in the Palestinian territories. The CEC should begin the process of registration of voters in Gaza and the West Bank, the PLO executive committee said in a statement issued after a meeting held in Ramallah and chaired by President Mahmoud Abbas. Yasser Abed Rabbo, Secretary General of the PLO’s executive committee, who read the statement to the press, said that the elections commission will start its work in Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem.
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.
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.