Gaza/Ramallah/Jerusalem, 29 April 2021 (dpa/MIA) – Ahead of a possible cancellation of the Palestinian election, the Islamist Hamas movement has warned that it will hold Israel responsible.
Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, does not agree to a postponement or cancellation of the election scheduled for May 22, it said in a statement released on Wednesday evening. It also said it was unacceptable to hold the election without a vote in East Jerusalem.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was scheduled to meet representatives of several Palestinian groups in Ramallah on Thursday evening. There had been speculation that Abbas might announce a postponement of the first election in more than 15 years following the meeting.
The official reason: according to Palestinian sources, Israel has not responded to the Palestinian Authority’s demand to allow the vote to be held in the Arab-majority eastern part of Jerusalem in addition to the Palestinian Territories.
The status of the city is one of the central points of contention in the Middle East conflict: Israel claims Jerusalem as its “eternal and indivisible capital,” while the Palestinians maintain their claim to East Jerusalem as their capital.
Observers, however, also see the Jerusalem issue as a possible pretext for a cancellation because a victory for Abbas’ strongly divided Fatah is considered uncertain. In recent polls, two-thirds of respondents expressed dissatisfaction with the president.
The election was actually intended as part of efforts to reconcile the Islamist Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, and the more moderate Fatah. An agreement should pave the way for new talks with Israel on a two-state solution. Hamas is classified as a terrorist organization by Israel and the EU.
Fatah is the largest Palestinian organization, ahead of Hamas.
Hamas won the last parliamentary elections in 2006 and took sole control of the Gaza Strip by force the following year. Since then, Fatah has only ruled in the parts of the West Bank not administered by Israel.