After the three conditions of Hamas, the Elections Committee continues holding elections in the West Bank, but not in Gaza
More than 100 Palestinian civil organizations issued a petition calling on Hamas and Fatah to remove any administrative, technical, or legal obstacles, and to ensure that local elections are held in Gaza and the West Bank.
Gaza – The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) has set 3 main conditions in order to participate and allow the second phase of the local council elections in the Gaza Strip to be held next March.
Hamas requires holding comprehensive elections simultaneously or consecutively, of which local elections will be a part and not a substitute for them, and a written pledge from President Mahmoud Abbas to ensure that the elections will not be canceled at the last minute, and his retraction of the amendments he made to the local elections law.
The Palestinian Central Elections Committee considered that these are “political demands”, which are being discussed with the political parties and components, and are not within its competence, and says that it is continuing to conduct the second phase of the elections in the West Bank, as well as the first phase, in light of the inability to hold them in Gaza after this declared position of Hamas. .
Hamas spokesman in Gaza Hazem Qassem said – to Al Jazeera Net – that “the movement is immediately ready to contest the elections at all levels, but on clear national bases and within a comprehensive national vision and consensus, and not partial elections, as is the case with the current local elections.”
Qassem described what Hamas had defined as “national demands” and not “partisan conditions.” He called for “a national dialogue that seriously discusses the issue of all elections, setting specific and nationally agreed timetables, with written guarantees that they will be respected and not repeat the experience of taking unilateral decisions to cancel them.”
According to Qassem, Hamas wants to hold comprehensive Palestinian elections for the Legislative Council, the presidency, and the National Council, as agreed upon nationally, either simultaneously or consecutively, and the local council elections are part of these comprehensive elections and not a substitute for them, as is the case now.
In anticipation of President Abbas repeating previous experiences of canceling the elections, Qassem said that Hamas demands written guarantees of commitment to what is agreed upon nationally, respecting timetables and results, as well as reversing the amendments made to the local elections law, especially with regard to judicial reference.
Qassem stressed that these demands guarantee fair and transparent national elections, and the realization of a real political partnership, and that Hamas is immediately ready to participate in these elections, respect their results, and abide by what the people decide to choose their representatives.
Elections without Gaza
On Sunday, the Central Elections Committee announced that it had received a message from Hamas, which includes its position on the second phase of the local elections scheduled for March 26.
The Director of the Regional Office of the Elections Committee in Gaza Jamil Al-Khalidi – to Al-Jazeera Net – that according to the message of Hamas, this stage of the elections will not take place in Gaza.
He said that the letter included “political demands”, which the movement set as a basis for agreeing to participate and hold elections in Gaza, “related to the elections law, such as canceling the formation of the electoral court, and restoring the jurisdiction to decide on appeals to the courts of first instance in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”
According to al-Khalidi, the head of the committee, Dr. Hanna Nasser, responded to Hamas in a written letter, in which he stressed that “its demands are political, and require addressing the political level about them (..) and putting the government in the form of these developments to take a decision regarding the Gaza elections.”
Al-Khalidi said that “the elections committee has an executive mission and it is not within its competence to decide on political issues.”
In view of this position on Hamas, the committee considered that it is not possible to hold local elections in Gaza at the present time, especially since the time available is very short, as voter registration for local elections is scheduled to begin within a few days according to the announced timetable.
The first phase of local elections early last month took place in part in 154 local councils in villages and towns in the West Bank and not in the Gaza Strip, following a similar position on Hamas, which has controlled the situation in the small coastal strip since the split occurred in mid-2007.
The last local elections were held in 2017 in the West Bank, and Hamas refused at the time to hold them in Gaza without a national consensus on holding comprehensive elections.
President Abbas postponed the legislative elections that were scheduled for last May, indefinitely, claiming that Israel refused to hold them in occupied Jerusalem, which was rejected at the time by Hamas and Palestinian political and civil forces and components.
Invitations to eligibility
More than 100 Palestinian civil organizations issued a petition calling on Hamas and the Palestinian National Liberation Organization (Fatah) to remove any administrative, technical, or legal obstacles, and to ensure that local elections are held in Gaza and the West Bank.
The director of the “National Organizations Network” in Gaza, Amjad Al-Shawa, told Al Jazeera Net that the consensus on holding local elections will restore hope to the Palestinian people.
According to Al-Shawa, the NGOs believe that holding local elections pushes towards completing the rest of the legislative, presidential and National Council elections, and in accordance with a consensual and democratic vision that guarantees partnership in the structure of the political system and the various representative institutions.
He said that the absence of local council elections for many years has accumulated many problems, especially since they are of a service and development nature, and the municipalities in Gaza are suffering from major financial crises, which have seriously affected the level of what they provide to citizens.