PA could announce date for West Bank elections next week

By
January 9, 2017 00:10

Vote scheduled for last September was suspended by Palestinian court due to Hamas role in Gaza Strip.

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Mahmoud Abbas

Mahmoud Abbas. (photo credit:REUTERS)

The Palestinian Authority may set a date for municipal elections, which were supposed to take place on October 8, in its weekly cabinet meeting next week, a senior PA official said on Sunday.

“The government may determine an official date for elections next week,” Muhammad Hassan Jabarin, PA deputy minister of local governance, told The Jerusalem Post.

The Ramallah-based PA High Court suspended the municipal elections, which would have been the first major elections to take place in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in approximately 10 years, on September 8, citing the illegality of Hamas-controlled courts in the coastal enclave.

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In the week preceding the suspension of the municipal elections, Hamas-operated courts disqualified a number of Fatah electoral lists in the Gaza Strip. Hamas said the Fatah lists were in violation of election regulations, whereas Fatah said that Hamas manipulated its courts to “carry out a massacre” against Fatah’s lists.

On October 4, the High Court reconvened and ruled that the municipal elections could go forward in the West Bank only in light of the illegitimacy of Gazan courts.

However, the PA government opted to postpone the municipal elections for four months to find a solution to the Gazan courts’ decision, which Jabarin says they have found.

“The government has drafted and approved a new law to create a single court to deal with all concerns related to the municipal elections,” he said. “All that is left to do is for the president to approve the new law and then for the government to announce a new date for elections.”

If PA President Mahmoud Abbas approves the election law, he will be in charge of forming the municipal elections court.

Moreover, Jabarin stated that if Hamas boycotts or prevents municipal elections from taking place in the Gaza Strip, the PA government could find ways around it.

“We want to hold the elections in every locale, but if there are some locales that experience problems in holding elections, we can hold them in stages,” Jabarin said.

While Hamas has not said whether or not it plans to participate in municipal elections if the PA government announces a date, it has expressed its clear disapproval of a new municipal elections court.

“Hamas rejects Rami Hamdallah’s government’s approval of a law to create a municipal elections court because the responsible parties for ruling on issues related to local elections are local courts,” Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, said on Tuesday.

Farid Tamallah, spokesman of the PA Central Elections Committee, said that the committee is prepared to organize elections and would need 90 days to complete all necessary measures to hold elections.

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