Palestinian Authority postpones municipal elections

After a Palestinian court ruled to exclude Gaza from elections, the Palestinian Authority announced it will postpone elections until citizens of Gaza and Palestinian territories can vote at the same time.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) announced on Tuesday it will postpone the municipal elections for four months with the intent of holding elections in the PA and in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, after a Supreme Court decision on Monday ruled to exclude Gaza from the elections.

The elections were due to have been held in four days time, and are the first to take place in the PA in a decade.

Hamas condemned the Supreme Court’s Monday decision and accused Fatah of being behind the “deeply politicized” decision.

The Central Elections Commission (CEC) stated on Monday that excluding the Gaza Strip from elections would only worsen the Palestinian political situation, and recommended that the elections be postponed for six months to give time to organize the electoral process.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said that the PA had decided to follow the CEC’s recommendation and postpone the elections.

“The elections will be held on the same day in all governorates, taking in consideration all legal procedures,” Hamdallah stated.

Hamas rejected the PA’s decision to postpone the elections.

“We consider the government’s decision to postpone the election as an attempt to evade the election to serve Fatah’s interests,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said, accusing Fatah of having no respect for the judicial system.

Abu Zuhri called upon the CEC to resume the electoral process to counter Fatah’s attempts to “ignite an electoral crisis” to cover its political stances.

Fatah spokesman Osama al-Qawasmi said that the decision to postpone the elections proved Abbas and Fatah’s keenness to achieve national unity and pave the way for future presidential and legislative elections.

He called Hamas’ accusations “bogus,” saying that they served the Islamist movement’s partisan interests, further claiming that Hamas’ targeting of Fatah in the Gaza Strip ahead of the election was the main reason behind the current political and legal crisis.

The United Nations (UN) Tuesday expressed its support for the PA’s decision to postpone the elections and hold an inclusive event.

Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov released a statement saying that the decision to postpone elections was “in the national interest of the Palestinian people,” adding that when elections do take place they must include all Palestinians.

Mladenov urged Palestinian political bodies to “work together in good faith to overcome internal divisions and uphold democracy,” and underscored the need for elections to be held according to international standards that can “contribute to advancing Palestinian reconciliation based on PLO principles as well as to ending the occupation and establishing a democratic, unified Palestinian state as part of a negotiated two-state solution.”

On September 8, the Supreme Court ordered a halt on municipal elections in response to several appeals submitted by Hamas and Fatah challenging the legitimacy of the elections and charging each other with fraud.

By: World Israel News Staff