Hamas says rejects municipal elections in Gaza

Hamas and other Palestinian groups have criticized the Palestinian Authority for splitting the municipal elections into two phases.

 MEMBERS OF the Hamas Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades take part in a military event in Gaza City last week. (photo credit: ATIA MOHAMMED/FLASH90)
MEMBERS OF the Hamas Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades take part in a military event in Gaza City last week.
(photo credit: ATIA MOHAMMED/FLASH90)

Hamas has refused to allow the second phase of the Palestinian municipal elections, scheduled for March 26, to be held in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas also did not allow the first phase of the municipal elections, which took place last month, to be held in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas and other Palestinian groups have criticized the Palestinian Authority for splitting the municipal elections into two phases. They further protested that the municipal vote was being held separately from the presidential and parliamentary elections, which have been postponed indefinitely by PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

The first phase of the municipal elections took place in 154 localities in the rural area of the West Bank. According to the Palestinian Central Elections Commission (CEC), the voter turnout percentage reached 66% out of 405,687 eligible voters.

The second phase of the municipal elections will include 127 localities in big cities of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

 A picture taken with a drone shows Hamas supporters taking part in a protest against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' decision to postpone planned parliamentary elections, in the northern Gaza Strip April 30, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM) A picture taken with a drone shows Hamas supporters taking part in a protest against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' decision to postpone planned parliamentary elections, in the northern Gaza Strip April 30, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)

But in a letter to the CEC last weekend, Hamas said it had not changed its position regarding boycotting the elections.

The letter was sent to the CEC days before voter registration begins for the second phase of the elections.

The letter clarified that Hamas continues to insist that “comprehensive elections must be held simultaneously or consecutively, in which local elections are a part and not an alternative.”

According to the letter, Hamas reiterated its “readiness to contest the elections at all levels, on clear political and legal bases, and within a comprehensive national consensus.”

In response, CEC chairman Hanna Nasser said Hamas’s demands were “political,” adding that his commission does not have the authority to decide on such matters.

The CEC considers the position of Hamas to mean that the local elections cannot be held in the Gaza Strip at the present time, he wrote in a letter.

Senior Hamas official Hussam Badran said his group had also asked for “written guarantees” from Abbas that the elections would not be canceled at the last minute.

Hamas has also demanded that Abbas rescind his decision to form appeals courts to look into complaints about the voting process, he said.

A PA official in Ramallah accused Hamas of “obstructing” the municipal elections for the second time. Hamas’s boycott of the elections would deepen divisions among the Palestinians and solidify the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the official warned.