Abbas: Palestinian elections on January 24

Abbas Elections for pre

October 23, 2009 22:12
1 minute read.
Abbas worried 248.88

Abbas worried 248.88. (photo credit: AP)

General elections for the PA presidency and parliament will be held in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on January 24, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced in a presidential decree on Friday. Abbas's move is likely to deepen the rift with Hamas. It follows the failure of reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas, which would have postponed the vote until June. Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Abbas, said the decree calls for elections in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza. But it remained unclear how the PA intends to organize the balloting in east Jerusalem or in Hamas-ruled Gaza. Hamas promptly condemned the decision, with its spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri saying the Abbas government could not hold elections in Gaza. "This announcement means that elections will take place only in the West Bank, cementing the Palestinian split instead of fixing the problem," Abu Zuhri said. Egypt failed last week to get the two sides to commit to another round of talks in Cairo, where it hoped a reconciliation deal would be signed. Fatah Central Committee member Jibril Rajoub on Saturday said Hamas was wrong to reject a Palestinian reconciliation agreement negotiated by Egypt, Israel Radio reported. Hamas sets conditions and acts as if it were a power, Rajoub said, stressing that the group could not dictate its will to the Palestinian people. According to the report, Rajoub said that in the coming weeks, Fatah will check how Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem will be able to participate in the elections. On Friday, Abu Rudeineh said that without a Fatah-Hamas agreement, Abbas is constitutionally bound to hold elections in January. Recently reported surveys show Abbas has lost support to Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh, with each of them now backed by about 16 percent of the Palestinian public, as opposed to a month earlier, when Abbas pulled twice that figure. The change has been ascribed to Abbas's decision earlier this month, following US pressure, to delay by six months a UN discussion on the Goldstone Commission's report on Operation Cast Lead. The move triggered heavy Palestinian criticism and calls for Abbas to resign. Abbas later reversed his decision.

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