Fatah and Ha­mas agree to hold gen­eral elec­tions in Pales­tine

The two del­e­ga­tions reach ‘a uni­fied vi­sion’ with plan to move ahead with a na­tion­wide di­a­logue

Arab News - - News Middle East - Daoud Kut­tab Am­man

Pales­tine’s two main po­lit­i­cal par­ties, Fatah and Ha­mas, have agreed to hold gen­eral elec­tions within the next six months, they an­nounced on Thurs­day.

A press re­lease is­sued af­ter a meet­ing held at the Pales­tinian Em­bassy in Is­tan­bul said the two del­e­ga­tions had reached “a uni­fied vi­sion.”

“We agree that the vi­sion has ma­tured and we plan to move ahead with a na­tion­wide di­a­logue with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of all fac­tions un­der the pa­tron­age of Pres­i­dent (Mah­moud) Ab­bas to take place be­fore the first of Oc­to­ber,” the state­ment said.

Jib­ril Ra­joub, sec­re­tary gen­eral

of the Fatah Cen­tral Com­mit­tee, told Pales­tine TV that the heads of all fac­tions will meet soon in Ra­mal­lah and that that meet­ing will be fol­lowed by the is­suance of a pres­i­den­tial de­cree an­nounc­ing the elec­tions.

The of­fi­cial Pales­tinian news agency quoted Ra­joub as say­ing that the elec­tions will take place in three stages within six months. “We will have leg­isla­tive elec­tions, fol­lowed by pres­i­den­tial elec­tions and then elec­tions for the Pales­tine Na­tional Coun­cil wher­ever pos­si­ble.”

Ha­mas’ spokesman in Gaza, Fawzi Barhoum, said the meet­ing in Is­tan­bul con­firmed the ba­sis of a new ini­tia­tive aimed at forg­ing a pol­icy course “based on unity and power-shar­ing.”

Na­jeeb Qadoumi, a mem­ber of the Pales­tine Na­tional Coun­cil, told Arab News: “The meet­ing re­flects the feel­ing among Pales­tini­ans that the Pales­tinian cause is in be­ing liq­ui­dated based on the Amer­i­can-Is­raeli vi­sion and that only through unity and the le­git­imiza­tion of elec­tions can we stand up to this con­spir­acy against the Pales­tinian cause.”

Gaza-based ac­tivist Wael Al­loush told the Ra­mal­lah-based Ajyal ra­dio sta­tion: “The last time elec­tions were held was in 2006. It will be an im­por­tant but new ac­tiv­ity for many Pales­tini­ans.”

Am­mar Dweek of the In­de­pen­dence Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights said that ex­ter­nal pres­sure has forced Pales­tini­ans to unite. “The sit­u­a­tion has ma­tured for elec­tions be­cause ev­ery­one re­al­izes they will be to­tally iso­lated with­out the le­git­i­macy of elec­tions,” he said.

Hazem Kawasmi, a mem­ber of the board of Al-Marsad (the Arab World Democ­racy and Elec­toral

Mon­i­tor), told Arab News that he has sug­gested to Pres­i­dent Ab­bas that elec­tions should be based on two con­stituen­cies — na­tional and Jerusalem. “The idea is that this would be a one-time ac­tiv­ity that will high­light the is­sue of Jerusalem,” he clar­i­fied.

Kawasmi ex­pects that Is­rael would be strongly op­posed to that idea, but said, “We will have to fight it on the diplo­matic and public re­la­tions fronts.”

Ja­mal Zak­out, who was the as­sis­tant to former Pales­tinian Prime Min­is­ter Salam Fayyad, told Arab News that he is still skep­ti­cal that elec­tions will take place. “Ev­ery­one is wait­ing for the re­sults of the US elec­tions,” he said. “Then they will de­cide for sure whether or not to have elec­tions here.”


Mem­bers of the Fatah and Ha­mas pose for photo at the Is­tan­bul Em­bassy.

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