Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said there would be no elections if they were not held in Jerusalem or Gaza alongside the West Bank.
He stressed the need to hold elections because they “protect our existence and our cause,” saying he decided to hold legislative and then presidential elections, but on condition that they take place in Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
His speech came hours after the head of Hamas’ political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, announced that his movement agreed to the issuance of a decree by the president to set a date for the Palestinian general elections before a national meeting, which was a point of contention.
In a press conference following a meeting between the movement’s leadership and representatives of Palestinian factions in Gaza, Haniyeh said that Abbas’ insistence to issue a presidential decree before the scheduled national meeting might not be an obstacle or a reason for the disruption of the elections, if all sides agreed on the foundations and guarantees that must be available for these elections.
He added that Hamas has accepted to hold legislative elections followed by presidential elections in a specified period of time, and to be staged on the basis of full proportional representation.
Abbas had informed the Palestinian factions through a letter to the head of the election commission - Hanna Nasser - that he refused to hold any leadership meeting before issuing a decree for the general elections.
But the election is not just about Hamas’ approval. The Palestinian president, as he said, wants to hold elections in Jerusalem as well, which is a more complicated issue.
Israel rejects any sovereign activity by the Palestinian Authority in East Jerusalem as it considers that the “two parts of Jerusalem constitute the capital of Israel.”
The PA has addressed the foreign ministers of the European Union, the African Union, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan and South Africa, as well as the United Nations, to press Israel to agree to the elections in Jerusalem, but received no approval about its demand.