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Abbas decrees first Palestinian elections in 15 years – NewsNet

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday decreed parliamentary and presidential elections for later this 12 months in what could be the primary vote of its type since 2006, when the Islamic militant group Hamas gained a landslide victory.

Elections would pose a serious danger for Abbas’ Fatah social gathering and in addition for Hamas, which welcomed the decree. Both have confronted protests in recent times over their incapability to reconcile with each other, advance Palestinian aspirations for statehood or meet the essential wants of these within the territories they govern.

Fatah and Hamas have been publicly calling for elections for greater than a decade however have by no means been in a position to mend their rift or agree on a course of for holding them, and regardless of Friday’s decree, it remained removed from clear whether or not the voting would really be held.

Elections might additionally complicate President-elect Joe Biden’s plans to revive support to the Palestinians and to revive the peace course of with Israel.

The 2006 election victory by Hamas, which is taken into account a terrorist group by Israel and Western international locations, led to heavy worldwide stress being positioned on the Palestinian Authority. Clashes between Fatah and Hamas raged for greater than a 12 months, culminating in Hamas’ 2007 takeover of the Gaza Strip, which it nonetheless controls regardless of a crippling Israeli-Egyptian blockade and three wars with Israel.

Abbas’ Palestinian Authority is confined to the occupied West Bank, the place it administers main inhabitants facilities in line with agreements with Israel. Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem within the 1967 conflict, territories the Palestinians need for his or her future state.

The decree units a timeline wherein legislative elections could be held on May 22, adopted by presidential elections on July 31 — the primary since Abbas was elected to a four-year time period in 2005. Elections for the National Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which represents the Palestinian trigger internationally, could be held Aug. 31.

Abbas handed the decree to Hanna Nasir, the pinnacle of the Central Election Commission.

Hamas welcomed the decree and expressed its “strong eagerness to make this obligation successful.”

“We have worked in the past months to surmount all hurdles to reach this day, and we have shown a lot of flexibility,” it stated in a press release. It additionally referred to as for dialogue forward of the vote.

Fatah and Hamas have tried to reconcile on a lot of events over time, however each try has devolved into bickering and mutual recriminations, leaving the Palestinians divided politically and geographically, and additional dashing their hopes for independence.

Mkhaimar Abusada, a political science professor at Gaza’s Al-Azhar University, stated the decree “points to a certain seriousness by Abbas on the issue of elections, regardless of the problems they could face and the disagreements that are not yet settled.”

A ballot carried out in December by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research discovered that if parliamentary elections have been held, Fatah would win 38% of the vote and Hamas would win 34%. Abbas would lose in a presidential election towards Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, 43% to 50%, in line with the survey. The pollsters interviewed 1,270 Palestinians nose to nose throughout the West Bank and Gaza, and reported a margin of error of three%.

Hamas has spent years increase its personal authorities in Gaza, together with by hiring new civil servants to switch these loyal to Abbas. It has additionally refused to surrender its huge arsenal of rockets and different arms, and considers Israel a sworn enemy.

Abbas is against violence and favors negotiations resulting in a two-state answer with Israel, a place with vast worldwide help.

It could be just about not possible for Hamas to imagine accountability over the Palestinian enclaves within the West Bank, the place Israel maintains general safety management. The Palestinian Authority coordinates with Israel on safety, financial and different issues.

Abbas, 85, has led the Palestinian Authority and the PLO for the reason that dying of Yasser Arafat in 2004 and has no clear successor.


Associated Press author Joseph Krauss in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

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