Hamas agreed to hold the elections within the Palestinian consensus and handed its “positive” response to the Chairman of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission (CEC), Hanna Nasser.
Chief of Hamas politburo, Ismail Haniyeh, said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas must issue a presidential decree and then call for a comprehensive national conference to agree on the general principles of the elections, namely freedoms.
Hamas's position makes it even more possible to hold legislative elections, which will be held for the first time since 2006. But the election is not just about Hamas's approval, as the President wants to hold the elections in Jerusalem as well, which present a more complicated issue.
Israel rejects any activity which exercises “Palestinian sovereignty” in East Jerusalem, considering the whole city as its capital.
Speaking at a press conference after meeting Nasser, Haniyeh said the elections themselves are not the goal, but a way out of the current Palestinian crisis. He noted that reconciliation and ending the division is a right, noting that the movement will respect the results.
Haniyeh emphasized the need for holding the elections in Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank, reasserting that neither Fatah nor Hamas will accept the exclusion of Jerusalem under any circumstances.
Earlier, Hamas said it will postpone its response in protest at what it called “the police repression and arrest of released detainees who organized a sit-in protesting against cutting their salaries, and broke up them by force.
A delegation from the Commission arrived in the Gaza Strip to receive Hamas’ written response to Abbas’ call for general elections.
Consultations stalled two weeks ago when the President asked Hamas for a written response after he received responses from other factions. Abbas informed the Palestinian factions that he refused to hold any leadership meeting before issuing a decree for general elections.
“We will move forward in our national dialogue on the elections of the Palestinian National Council (PNC) while reconsidering ways to rehabilitate and develop the institutions of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to resume its active role,” Haniyeh stated.
Hamas leader hoped Fatah will also support the elections at this dangerous phase, and in light of these dangerous developments that should empower the Palestinian position, especially after the US decision to legalize Israeli settlements.
Haniyeh stressed that the issue of the police’s crackdown on the sit-in has been settled, calling on Abbas to resolve their case and ensure the payment of their salaries as it is their right for their sacrifices.
The Commission’s Chairman asserted that Hamas agreed to participate in the elections, which “may be the first step to end the rupture between the Palestinian political actors, and we hope that we manage to hold fair elections as we were the case in 2006.”
Nasser conveyed that Hamas has expressed a great sense of flexibility by offering such positive response and agreeing to participate in the elections.
“Reaching the polls eventually is the Commission’s most important achievement,” Nasser said.