Hamas officials head to Cairo for talks on Palestinian elections

Palestinians have said that Israel would be held fully responsible for the failure of the elections if it doesn’t allow east Jerusalem residents to participate in the vote.

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November 6, 2019 19:31
3 minute read.
Palestinian Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh and Chairman of the Palestinian Central Election Committee Ha

Palestinian Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh and Chairman of the Palestinian Central Election Committee Hana Naser hold a bottle of olive oil during their meeting in Gaza City October 28, 2019. (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)

A senior Hamas delegation on Wednesday headed to Cairo for talks with Egyptian intelligence officials about Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s plan to hold new parliamentary and presidential elections.

The delegation is headed by Khalil al-Haya, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, said Hamas spokesman Abdel Latif Qanou. “The delegation will brief Egyptian officials on Hamas’s position toward the elections,” Qanou said. “Hamas is serious about ensuring the success of the elections and has been flexible in this regard.”

The spokesman said that the Hamas officials will also visit a number of countries, but did not provide further details.

The visit comes amid reports that the discussions between the PA, Hamas and other Gaza-based factions have failed to reach agreement on the elections.

Hamas initially welcomed Abbas’s initiative, but insisted that the elections be held simultaneously for the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), the PA presidency and the PLO’s legislative body, the Palestine National Council (PNC).

Abbas, on the other hand, insists that the Palestinians first hold elections for the PLC, while the presidential and PNC vote would take place separately a few months later.

On Wednesday, several Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip said that the proposed elections must be preceded by a meeting of leaders of all Palestinian factions to reach agreement on ending the rivalry between Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah faction and create a “positive atmosphere” for holding the vote.

Ahmed Mudalal, a senior Islamic Jihad official in the Gaza Strip, said that new elections can’t be held as long as the Hamas-Fatah dispute remains unresolved and the Gaza Strip remains under blockade. He said that the proposed meeting of the faction leaders would discuss all issues related to the Palestinian cause so as to reach agreement on a “plan to face the challenges and dangers facing the Palestinians.”

Mudalal said that Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip relayed their position to the head of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission, Hana Nasser, during his visit to the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave in the past week.

The PLO’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), whose representatives participated in the meetings with Nasser, also insisted that the elections be preceded by a meeting of all faction leaders.

The two groups said that the meeting would pave the way for all factions to achieve Palestinian national unity ahead of the elections and end the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. “We need to reach agreement on a comprehensive Palestinian political program before we hold the elections,” the groups said in separate statements.

A senior PFLP official said that Abbas was prepared to hold a meeting of faction leaders, but only to discuss the elections and not any political issues. “Abbas is also saying that the meeting should take place only after he officially announces the elections, and not before,” the official said. “He doesn’t want to discuss with us any political issues. This shows that Abbas is not serious about convening a meeting of all the faction leaders.”

In a related development, an east Jerusalem-based group called The Popular National Congress said on Wednesday that any new elections should include the Arab residents of the city.

The group, which is dominated by Abbas loyalists, said that any elections that do not include Jerusalem are rejected and doomed to failure.

The head of the group, Bilal Natsheh, said that Israel would be held fully responsible for the failure of the elections if it doesn’t allow east Jerusalem residents to participate in the vote. He pointed out that Israel had previously permitted the Palestinian elections to take place also in east Jerusalem.



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