The two main Palestinian groups, Hamas and Fatah, announced that they had reached a deal on Thursday, September 24, to hold the first elections in Palestine in nearly 15 years. The general secretary of the Fatah movement, Jibril Rajaoub, announced the deal in Ramallah and said that the elections will be held within the next six months.
The factions met in Turkey’s capital Ankara on Monday to finalize the agreement which was first reached between president Mahmoud Abbas and the top leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, earlier this month.
Agreeing that divisions among Palestinian factions have led to the weakening of the movement, Rajaoub announced, “building national unity is a strategic goal of the agreement, and is our path to elections. The democratic process is the only way to build our political system,” Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.
The voting will take place in all occupied territories, including eastern Jerusalem. The agreement, which was reached on Wednesday, will be submitted for approval to the next meeting of the heads of Palestinian factions to be held on October 1.
Disagreements between the two main factions emerged after the surprise victory of Hamas in the Palestinian elections in 2006. Since 2007, Hamas has been ruling Gaza independently while the Palestinian Authority was under Fatah’s control. Several earlier attempts at reconciliation failed. The recent Israeli announcement of imminent formal annexation of the parts of the occupied West Bank, and the UAE and Bahrain signing of a “normalization” accord with Israel led the factions to end their disagreements and unite to fight against the occupation.