Palestinian Affairs

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Palestinian Authority to Exclude Gaza from Municipal Elections

The Palestinian Authority announced Tuesday that municipal elections, scheduled for May, will only take place in the PA-controlled West Bank and not in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

The Ma’an news agency said the decision was taken during the PA’s weekly cabinet meeting Tuesday afternoon. A PA statement said that Hanna Nasser, the head of the Central Elections Commission, had failed to convince Hamas officials to allow elections in Gaza.

The PA will “hold the municipal elections in the West Bank on May 13 and postpone them in the Gaza Strip,” PA spokesman Tarek Rishmawi told the AFP news agency. He went on to say that “Hamas is responsible… Hamas informed us that it will not allow for elections to take place in the Gaza Strip.”

Hamas blamed the PA for the decision, saying in a statement that “President [Mahmoud] Abbas, Fatah, and the West Bank government bear full responsibility for all the consequences of this ugly, factional decision.” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that “the West Bank government’s decision… amounts to reinforcing the split” between the PA and Hamas.

In July, Hamas had surprisingly agreed to field a list of candidates in the municipal elections. It would have been the first election of any kind contested by both Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah since 2006, when Hamas won a majority in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections. The municipal vote was viewed as a possible precursor to the first parliamentary election since then.

The PA high court then ruled in October that municipal elections can only be held in the West Bank, prompting the PA to postpone the election by several months until May, with the hope of finding a solution.

In 2007, Hamas violently seized control of the Gaza Strip from Fatah and relations between the two have been bitter ever since. Reconciliation and unity agreements between the two factions have since been reached but never fully implemented.

(via BICOM )

[Photo: BICOM ]