Celebrating the 32nd anniversary of its founding, Hamas said it was ready for Palestinian elections, reconciliation and ending divisions with the Palestinian Authorities in the West Bank.
The Hamas leadership announced at a large public rally in the central Gaza Strip that it had finished forming the preparatory committee for the elections and was ready to participate immediately.
Other than expressing initiative to partake in upcoming elections, the group has been exerting heavy media pressure on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to issue the election decree.
“We are pushing for Palestinian reunification, and we have made dozens of concessions for the sake of the country and for our people to complete reconciliation. And they are ready to appeal to the Palestinian street through the general elections,” said Hamas official Osama Al-Muzaini.
He also stressed the need to reconcile and end all divisions.
Member of the Hamas political bureau, Hussam Badran said that the group has reacted positively to Abbas’ invite to elections.
In a broadcast statement, Badran further pressured the PA head to issue an election decree.
He pointed out that there is a general Palestinian position that desires “guarantees for the freedom of elections and for the recognition of results.”
Separately, PA security forces arrested dozens of Hamas supporters in the West Bank in the past few days.
At least 66 Hamas supporters have been arrested or summoned for interrogation by PA security forces in recent days, according to Hamas spokesman Abdel Rahman Shadid.
Even though Hamas has welcomed Abbas’s initiative, saying it was planning to participate in the upcoming elections Shadid said that the PA campaign against Hamas supporters does not bode well for the prospects of holding a free and fair vote.
Hamas official Hazem Qassem said the crackdown was “a continuation of the Palestinian Authority’s delusion that it can uproot the presence of Hamas in the West Bank.” He urged the PA to halt “this national and moral crime, and create the appropriate atmosphere for free and fair elections.”