Palestinian factions agree on election mechanisms

No agreement to end Fatah-Hamas rivalry.

PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT Mahmoud Abbas reacts to the Mideast peace plan Wednesday in Ramallah – ‘A thousand no’s’.  (photo credit: RANEEN SAWAFTA/ REUTERS)
PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT Mahmoud Abbas reacts to the Mideast peace plan Wednesday in Ramallah – ‘A thousand no’s’.
After two days of talks in Cairo, several Palestinian factions, including Fatah and Hamas, announced on Tuesday evening that they reached agreement on several issues related to the upcoming general elections.
The factions, however, did not reach agreement on ending the Fatah-Hamas rift. 
Instead, the factions said that they decided to form a committee that would “address the repercussions of the division [between the West Bank and Gaza Strip in all human, social and legal aspects."
The committee will submit its report to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who will refer it to the new government and parliament for implementation after the elections.
The parliamentary election is scheduled to take place on May 22, while the presidential election will take place on July 31. The vote for the Palestinian National Council  (the PLO's legislative body) will take place at the end of August.
Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official, said that the factions agreed on the mechanisms for holding the elections. The factions also agreed on a “political base” for holding the elections, he said, without elaborating.
The factions said in a statement that they agreed to abide by the dates set for the parliamentary, presidential and Palestinian National Council elections, as announced by Abbas last month. 
They pledged to support and facilitate the work of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission, which is responsible for preparing for the electoral process.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh phoned Abbas after the meeting and praised the outcome of the Cairo talks, which were held under the auspices of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service.  
Haniyeh told Abbas that Hamas was keen on continuing the dialogue with Fatah to ensure the success of the elections and end the dispute between the two rival parties.
The factions stressed the importance of holding the elections in Jerusalem, in addition to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and pledged to respect and accept the results of the vote.
The factions agreed that a Palestinian “election court” would be formed by consensus to follow up on all issues that may rise after the elections.
The factions said that they agreed that Palestinian policemen in the West Bank and Gaza Strip would be deployed to secure the voting centers.
According to the factions, they also agreed on the need to safeguard public freedoms and the immediate release of all detainees held because of their political and factional affiliations by the PA and Hamas.
The factions called for ensuring full freedom for political campaigns and gatherings in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.