Palestine: Municipal Elections to Be Held in West Bank only, Gaza Excluded

The Palestinian high court excluded the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip from the upcoming municipal elections in its ruling on Monday arguing that the judiciary in Gaza does not have the necessary “guarantees” to hold the vote.

President Hisham al-Hatoo of the high court said the “court orders the implementation of the government’s decision on the holding of local elections”.

The court did not state when the municipal elections, previously slated for October 8, would be held, but according to speculations, the poll could take place in November.

The ruling has already been rejected by Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri as “politically motivated” with the objective of “empowering and rooting the internal division between the two Palestinian territories”.

Hamas issued a statement claiming that “the high court’s decision on the elections is discriminatory and ratifies the division” between Gaza and the West Bank; under the governance of Hamas and Fatah respectively.

Jehad Mashaqi, an official at the Ministry of Local Affairs, said the ruling “was justified in accordance with the law” but Muhammad Dib Mansur, Deputy Minister of the Interior of the Palestinian Authority reserved his comments given that his office oversees Palestinian elections.

The development could hamper the election process as opposition groups question the ruling. Khalida Jarrar, a Palestinian legislative member and senior member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) stressed that “if things continue like this, it might be difficult for some Palestinian factions to continue this game.” She said they are awaiting the actions of the government on the matter. “All the democratic factions need to get together and sit down to discuss the issue,” she said.

The Central Elections Commission recommended that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas postpone the elections for at least six months, in order to “address the best interest of the Palestinian people.”

The last time elections were held in Palestine was in 2006

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