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The Palestinian Elections…Is it Real this Time?

last update : 15/02/2021 - 04:29 PM ( Since 2 weeks )

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By Yousef Ghaben

The PA President Mahmoud Abbas decreed legislative elections on May 22 and presidential elections on July 31 2021.

The decree came as a result of talks sponsored by several countries including Turkey, Egypt, Qatar and Russia.

Hamas, the Palestinian party that rivaled Abbas's party "Fatah', has previously conditioned holding presidential and legislative elections simultaneously. However, it retreated this condition under pressure from mediators especially Qatar. Therefore, Abbas was left with no choice.  

After the US administration of Trump abandoned him for four years, and halted funding of the PA and UNRWA beside the suspension of negotiations with Israel, Abbas seeks to present himself to the world, especially Europe as a legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

So he can acquire equivalent support in light of the fact that he has been in office for more 14 years till now.

This comes in addition to the internal pressures in Fatah, the Palestinian faction dominating the Palestinian Authority, and the popular boredom over the lack of progress in several Palestinian files such as establishing the state and ending the internal Palestinian division, as well as the successive crises in Gaza and the West Bank, including the Israeli blockade, settlements, settler attacks and the Corona pandemic.

 All these elements left Abbas one way only, which is holding legislative and presidential elections.

For Hamas, Gaza crises including power shortage, high unemployment rate (49%), the difficult living situation for 2 million Palestinians, as well as the Corona pandemic, and the Israeli blockade pushed the movement to make a penetration in the status quo by moving forward towards holding elections.

Moreover, Hamas cannot close the door through which it came to power in 2006.

Hamas also is involved in the internal Palestinian division, and it comes under popular pressure to end the Palestinian split, in addition to the fact that Hamas depends on Qatari aid to keep the Gaza Strip alive.

 Such pressuring factors led Hamas to accept the elections that come as a popular and international demand.

We can conclude that both parties, Fatah and Hamas, have the real desire to hold the elections.

Nevertheless, many obstacles stand in the elections path, such as the status of East Jerusalem, as Israel has not yet proved holding elections there.

In addition, it is necessary to have an election court that ensures holding elections fairly and professionally, and to secure polling centers in the Palestinian territories, which has not been formed yet.

Under the proportional system of legislative elections, it is expected to have results with variant percentages of representation for the candidate lists. This means none of these lists would be able to form a government alone.

Therefore, the choice of alliances will be present.

To have Hamas in any future Palestinian government may pose some problems related to the recognition of this government, issues of funding and international representation in light of the fact that the United States classifies Hamas as a terrorist movement.

However, such problems can be overcome as we have the model of Hezbollah in Lebanon.

No doubt, the current time of the elections is not favorable on the Palestinian arena, as elections come in light of a wave of crises. Therefore, the election decree may be a step to escape  forward in order to move stagnant waters and to solve the stalemate that afflicts many important files in the Palestinian Cause.

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