Palestinians say they will hold elections by the end of 2018

In another step towards reconciliation Fatah and Hamas called for elections by the end of 2018. Will their reconciliation pact hold up until then?  

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News Staff

The Palestinian Fatah and Hamas factions have agreed to hold presidential and legislative elections by the end of 2018, another step in their attempt at reconciliation.

Fatah and Hamas met in Cairo on Tuesday and Wednesday to further negotiate the reconciliation pact they signed in October.

They called on the Central Election Commission to “complete all its preparatory work for the holding of presidential and legislative elections… by the end of 2018 and to authorize [Palestinian Authority] President Mahmoud Abbas to set the date of the elections,” according to the text of the declaration.

Current Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas has been in power since 2005. The last Palestinian parliamentary elections were in 2006. Abbas, who will soon be 83 years old, is not expected to run again.

In recent years Palestinian attempts to hold elections have failed.

Azzam Al-Ahmed, a member of the Fatah Central Committee who headed the Fatah delegation to the Cairo reconciliation dialogue, told reporters on Wednesday that the parties reviewed what has so far been implemented on the ground in the Gaza Strip.

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The PA has taken over various administrative roles in Gaza and has obtained control of the crossings into the Strip.

Ahmed said that the Palestinian factions agreed to “remove all obstacles that hinder the performance of the government in Gaza before the beginning of December,’ the official Palestinain WAFA news agency reported.

Egypt, which has sponsored the dialogue since its inception, will monitor the implementation of the reconciliation agreement in the Gaza Strip through a number of officials, Ahmed said.

Crucial Issue Not Resolved

One crucial sticking point that remains un-ironed as Hamas’ massive arsenal of weapons. While Hamas is refusing to disarm, Fatah maintains that “the Palestinian weaponry must be one.”

This issue is “a complicated file,” Ahmed conceded, while some analysts say that it will ultimately cause the failure of the reconciliation and lead to more violence.

Earlier this month, Hazem Atallah, the Palestinian national police commander, cast doubt on whether the reconciliation agreement can be carried out, warning that his forces cannot guarantee law and order unless Hamas disarms in Gaza.

With his comments, Atallah acknowledged that this issue is nowhere near resolution.

“It is impossible. How can I do security when there are all these rockets and guns? Is this possible? It doesn’t work,” Atallah stated.

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Several attempts have been made in the past to reconcile Hamas and Fatah since Hamas violently took control of Gaza in 2007. So far, all attempts have failed.

Fatah and Hamas have agreed to hold further talks in Cairo during the first week of December.