Abbas promises Palestinian elections

On January 15, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas announced that the first elections in 15 years would be held in the Palestinian territories. When Abbas was elected president on January 9, 2005, it was for a four-year term and he should actually have resigned as early as January 2009.

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas now promises that the first elections in 15 years will be held in the Palestinian territories. Photo:

According to Mahmoud Abbas, a legislative election will be held on May 22, a presidential election will be held on July 31 and an election to the Palestinian parliament will be held on August 31 this year. The most recent elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council were held on January 25, 2006. Following the split between Hamas and Fatah in 2007, the Legislative Council ceased to function. The elections in January 2006 led to open warfare between Hamas and Fatah and more than 600 Palestinians were killed in the fighting. Since the 2005 presidential election, the Palestinian Authority has been governed by Fatah President Mahmoud Abbas. Gaza has been ruled by Hamas since 2007 and the Palestinian Authority has no power in the area.
In January 2006, the Israeli government gave the go-ahead to the Arabs in East Jerusalem to participate in the Palestinian parliamentary elections. Hamas was, however, not permitted to conduct an election campaign in the city, citing the organization’s statutes to annihilate the state of Israel.

Terrorist classified

Hamas’ rule in Gaza has not been recognized internationally and the movement has been classified by the EU and the US as a terrorist organization. The Palestinian elections were supposed to have been held in 2009 but were stopped by the disagreement between Fatah and Hamas. Talks in Egypt in 2009 discussed the possibility of holding elections by January 2010, without success. A preliminary election date was then set for May 2012, but this election was also put off until the future. In April 2014, it was declared that general elections would be held no later than December 2014 according to an agreement between Fatah and Hamas, but the election was again postponed indefinitely. In October 2017 Hamas and Fatah signed a new reconciliation deal in which Hamas agreed to dissolve the unity government in Gaza and hold general elections at the end of 2018, but this election was also canceled. The elections that were planned for February and March 2021 have also been postponed.

Skepticism toward Elections

A December 2020 survey conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research showed that 52 percent of the Palestinian population did not believe that the Palestinian elections would be free and fair. If Hamas wins, 76 percent of those polled said Fatah would not accept the result. 58 percent, in turn, believed that Hamas would reject a Fatah victory, and many did not think the election would be held at all. As the Palestinian territories prepare for elections, Israel will hold its fourth election in four years. This is because the Knesset failed to approve the 2020 state budget by the required deadline. The elections in March last year were a result of the political dead-ends that arose after the elections in April and September 2019, when no party leader managed to raise the support of a majority in the Knesset to form a government.

1.9 million Arabs

Elections will be held on March 23 this year. In recent years, 1.9 million Arabs with Israeli citizenship have been able to participate in Israeli parliamentary elections. In last year’s election the Arab majority Joint List became the third largest party with 15 seats in the Knesset. Without a coalition government, the official charged with forming it would thus be dependent on passive support from the Arab List, which is controversial because such a government would be paralyzed in the event of a conflict with Gaza.