Head of the Hamas political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, said that he received a response from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas through the head of the Central Election Commission Hanna Nasser, agreeing to hold presidential and legislative elections.
In a joint news conference with Nasser, who arrived in Gaza on Sunday, Haniyeh said: “The elections must be inclusive;. We begin with the presidential and legislative elections, to reach the National Council or we agree on a mechanism to rebuild the Council as a national need within Palestine and in the Diaspora.”
He underlined the need to hold a meeting with various Palestinian factions in order to discuss all the details and the actual steps for holding the polls.
Haniyeh also emphasized that the elections be held in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem. He said the Palestinian factions would accept nothing less.
His remarks pointed to obstacles in reaching a final agreement on the elections. Fatah wants elections to ensure that the division between the two sides ends, on the basis that whoever wins will take power in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, without factional meetings or a reconciliation agreement.
But Hamas wants the elections to include the PLO and be held as part of a general consensus.
Haniyeh said that the meeting with Nasser was a follow-up to previous discussions and touched on many guidelines and details presented by the factions in order to ensure a successful electoral process.
He valued the supportive positions of “a number of brotherly and friendly countries and the Arab League”, and their willingness to monitor the elections to ensure their fairness and overcome any emerging obstacles.