The Palestinian Authority’s High Court of Justice on Monday cancelled the PA government’s decision to postpone municipal elections that were supposed to be held on July 17, 2010.

The court ruled that the decision to cancel the vote was in violation of Article 10 of the 2005 law and undermined democratic foundations.

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The court ruled that holding elections was a democratic right that does not threaten security and peace as the PA had claimed.

The PA government had justified its decision by arguing that it wanted to safeguard “national unity” – a reference to efforts to achieve reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.

Spokesmen for various Palestinian factions welcomed the seven-page verdict. Omar Nazzal, spokesman for the Homeland for All [Al-Watan Lilkul], said the decision reflected the “independence and fairness” of the Palestinian judicial system.

The PA’s decision to call off the elections was announced on the last day set for candidates and lists to present their candidacies. Palestinian sources said that the decision had been made due to deep divisions in Fatah and because many of the faction’s candidates had been planning to run as independents, which was one of the reasons why Fatah lost the January 2006 parliamentary election.

Several Palestinian organizations, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, had declared their intention to boycott the local elections.

The decision to call off the municipal election drew angry reactions from many Palestinian factions, whose representatives considered it an admission of failure on the part of Abbas and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. The PA Election Monitoring Committee criticized the decision as “illegal and undemocratic.”

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine welcomed the High Court ruling as a “victory for law, democracy and national rights of Palestinians.”

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