Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announces the first presidential elections in 15 years to be held on July 31.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has announced that parliamentary and presidential elections, the first in 15 years, will be held later this year in a bid to redress long-standing internal divisions.
According to a decree issued Friday by Abbas’s office, the Palestinian Authority (PA), which has limited autonomy in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, will hold parliamentary elections on May 22 and a presidential vote on July 31.
The last Palestinian parliamentary poll in 2006 resulted in a surprise victory for Hamas, widening an internal political divide that led to the group’s capture of the Gaza Strip in 2007 and contributed to a long delay in organizing new elections.
Gaza has been under Israeli blockade since 2007, when the Hamas movement began to control the enclave.
“The president instructed the electoral committee and all state apparatuses of the state to launch a democratic electoral process in all the cities of the homeland,” the decree says, referring to the occupied West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem -Is busy.
According to the statement, Abbas expects polls “in all governorates of Palestine, including East Jerusalem,” which was annexed by Israel after the 1967 war but is considered occupied territory.
Israel bans all Palestinian Authority activity in East Jerusalem, and there is no indication that it would allow a Palestinian vote in Jerusalem, which it considers its “undivided capital.”
Hamas welcomed the announcement, saying in a statement, “We have been working in recent months to resolve all obstacles so that we can reach this day.”
Previous failed attempts
The elections would represent a major risk for Abbas’ party, Fatah, as well as Hamas, as both have faced protests in recent years over their inability to reconcile, to advance Palestinian aspirations. to become a state or to meet the basic needs of those in the territories they govern.
Fatah and Hamas have publicly called for elections for more than 10 years, but have never been able to mend their split or agree on a process to hold them.
Following the 2006 polls, clashes between Fatah and Hamas raged for more than a year, culminating in the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007, where it still reigns despite an Israeli blockade. Egyptian and three wars with Israel.