Hamas Agrees To Municipal Elections For the First Time in 18 Years
Palestinian Authority To Hold Municipal Elections in Gaza
Ramallah, Palestine — Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, has agreed with other Palestinian factions to send a formal request to the Palestinian government in Ramallah for the first time in 18 years to hold municipal elections in Gaza, a Palestinian official said Wednesday, September 27.
Hazem Qassem, a Hamas spokesman, said in a press statement that the group had come to a consensus with other Palestinian factions to send a message to the government in Ramallah demanding local elections in Gaza.
The Palestinian Central Elections Commission (CEC) was present at the meeting between the Palestinian factions and Hamas, and Hisham Khalil, executive director of the CEC, told journalists that the commission had been informed of the full agreement of the Palestinian factions to hold local elections in Gaza as soon as possible.
Khalil said the delegation would then convey the "positive attitude" to the Palestinian government in Ramallah to set a date soon for holding local elections in Gaza.
In August, Hamas had announced its efforts to hold municipal elections in Gaza, but the Palestinian government had not commented.
Munther al-Hayek, Fatah spokesman in Gaza, said in a statement that his party was ready to hold municipal elections in Gaza, just as those held in the West Bank. The last local elections in the Gaza Strip, home to more than 2.3 million people, were held in 2005.
Municipal elections are seen as a crucial step towards establishing a peaceful and democratic Palestinian state. However, the divisions between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have hindered efforts to hold elections in the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian government has expressed its willingness to hold elections, but has conditioned it on Hamas relinquishing control of the Gaza Strip and allowing the return of the Palestinian Authority.
Hamas has demanded that the Palestinian Authority and Israel lift their blockade of the Gaza Strip before any elections can take place.
It remains to be seen if the latest developments will lead to elections in the near future.