Hamas has announced that it will participate in the October 8 municipal elections in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, according to a press release on its official website. Hamas boycotted the last round of local elections in 2012.“The movement (Hamas) sees the necessity and importance of holding local elections in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, and renewing local councils in support of a popular and free administration through the ballot box,” it said on Friday. “The movement will work to facilitate and make the elections successful in a way that serves the interest of our people and issue on the basis of providing assurances of fairness, equal opportunity, and respect for its results.”The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) followed Hamas’s lead hours later, announcing its preparedness to participate in the forthcoming elections on the condition that they do not oblige it to any political agreement. Ahmad al-Mudalil, a PIJ leader told Palestinian news site Donya al-Watan, “As long as there is national consensus to hold municipal elections, we have no objection.It is most important that these elections take place without conditions from any party, or any party forcing its conditions on another party.”Shortly after Hamas’s press release, the Palestinian Central Elections Commission in Ramallah welcomed Hamas’s position, and announced that its Chairman Henna Nasser and a delegation of the commission will travel to Gaza on Sunday to meet with various political factions.The Palestinian cabinet in Ramallah announced the date of the long-delayed municipal elections on Tuesday.For the past dozen years, only university elections have taken place regularly with the participation of the two major Palestinian factions.Notwithstanding numerous reconciliation agreements calling for Hamas and Fatah to hold joint elections, the last presidential election was held in 2005, and the last legislative elections a year later. President Abbas, 80, is now in the 12th year of his four-year-term, which by PA law ended in January 2009.