Palestinian Officials Accuse Hamas of Obstructing Elections

People hold a candlelight vigil for Maher al-Akhras, a Palestinian on hunger strike in Israeli jail. (EPA)
People hold a candlelight vigil for Maher al-Akhras, a Palestinian on hunger strike in Israeli jail. (EPA)
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Palestinian Officials Accuse Hamas of Obstructing Elections

People hold a candlelight vigil for Maher al-Akhras, a Palestinian on hunger strike in Israeli jail. (EPA)
People hold a candlelight vigil for Maher al-Akhras, a Palestinian on hunger strike in Israeli jail. (EPA)

The Hamas movement seems to have an internal problem that is preventing it from completing the internal reconciliation process, said a Palestinian official.

Member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Executive Committee Saleh Raafat confirmed that the movement, which runs the coastal Gaza Strip, has not yet officially replied to a proposal to hold general elections throughout Palestinian territories.

He hoped that Hamas would agree to holding the polls so that President Mahmoud Abbas would issue a decree setting the date for the elections in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

“Hamas has new demands on the reconciliation issue, elections and employees, which the government has been working on equally between the West Bank and Gaza,” he was quoted as saying by the official news agency (WAFA).

“It is obvious that Hamas has a problem with the reconciliation and the elections,” he continued.

Raafat’s remarks explain why Abbas has delayed his presidential decree even though both Fatah and Hamas and the rest of the Palestinian factions announced their agreement to hold the elections.

Fatah and Hamas had agreed in Istanbul in September to first hold the general elections, then presidential polls, followed by the election of the PLO national council. All elections are supposed to be held within six months.

Fatah central committee member Rawhi Fattouh said the members have unanimously agreed on the outcomes of the Istanbul meeting and are awaiting the approval of the Hamas politburo.

All of the outstanding issues will be resolved after the elections, he stressed, noting that the delay does not serve the interest of any party.

He speculated that some official in Gaza were opposed to the reconciliation, hinting that the elections may be obstructed for personal gain.

The last Palestinian general elections were held in 2006.



White House: Qatar and Egypt Plan Talks with Hamas on Gaza Ceasefire

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, US, May 22, 2024. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, US, May 22, 2024. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
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White House: Qatar and Egypt Plan Talks with Hamas on Gaza Ceasefire

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, US, May 22, 2024. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, US, May 22, 2024. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Saturday that mediators for Qatar and Egypt plan to engage Hamas militants soon to see if there is a way to push ahead with a Gaza ceasefire proposal offered by US President Joe Biden.

Sullivan spoke to reporters on the sidelines of a Ukraine peace summit and was asked about diplomatic efforts to get an agreement for Hamas to release some hostages held since Oct. 7 in exchange for a ceasefire lasting at least six weeks.

Sullivan said he had spoken briefly to one of the main interlocutors, Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, and that they would speak again about Gaza on Sunday while both are in Switzerland for the Ukraine conference, Reuters reported.

Hamas has welcomed the ceasefire proposal, but insists any agreement must secure an end to the war, a demand Israel still rejects. Israel described Hamas's response to the new US peace proposal as total rejection.

Sullivan said that US officials have taken a close look at Hamas's response.

"We think some of the edits are not unexpected and can be managed. Some of them are inconsistent both with what President Biden laid out and what the UN Security Council endorsed. And we are having to deal with that reality," he said.

He said US officials believe there remains an avenue to an agreement and that the next step will be for Qatari and Egyptian mediators to talk to Hamas and "go through what can be worked with and what really can’t be worked with."

"We anticipate a back-and-forth between the mediators and Hamas. We’ll see where we stand at that point. We will keep consulting with the Israelis and then hopefully at some point next week we’ll be able to report to you where we think things stand and what we see as being the next step to try to bring this to closure," he said.