A two-day meeting in Egyptian capital Cairo on the upcoming Palestinian elections concluded on Tuesday, February 9, with all Palestinian factions agreeing on certain basic mechanisms devised in the meeting for their conduct, and to respect and accept the mandate of the people irrespective of the outcome. Layered elections have been scheduled in the occupied Palestinian territories from May until August this year after a gap of 15 years.
The meeting was attended by 14 factions, including Fatah and Hamas. The groups agreed to follow the presidential decree issued last month which details the schedule of the legislative, presidential, and Palestinian National Council (PNC) elections on May 22, July 31 and August 31, respectively. The PNC is the Palestinian parliament in exile. The detailed mechanism for PNC elections will be discussed in detail next month.
#BREAKING | Palestinians agree on holding a legislative election first, then a presidential election and finally an election to complement the National Council. They will meet in Cairo next month to agree on mechanisms to form the council.#EgyptToday #Palestine | #مصر #فلسطين pic.twitter.com/MtKZ7vsgug
— Egypt Today Magazine (@EgyptTodayMag) February 9, 2021
It was decided to hold the elections in all the three occupied territories of West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. The factions also agreed to form a special court for resolving disputes related to the results and procedural violations. It will be formed of representatives from all three occupied territories. The factions agreed to observe complete freedom for campaigning and voting during the elections and to release all those who have been detained on the basis of their political opinions or affiliations.
They also agreed that no one else but “uniformed Palestinian police” will be allowed to guard the voting site and be responsible for security during the elections. It was decided that president Mahmoud Abbas will issue a decree to formalize all these decisions and will also create a national monitoring committee to follow their implementation.
If conducted as per schedule, these would be the first elections in Palestine in the last 15 years. The results of the previous election held in 2006 were not accepted by all the factions. Following the dispute, Hamas and Fatah have controlled Gaza and the West Bank, respectively.
There are 2.8 million eligible voters in all the three occupied Palestinian territories. As per preliminary public opinion surveys, there is much enthusiasm among Palestinians regarding the elections.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has limited powers to govern the occupied territories as per the Oslo accord. As of now, it is not clear whether Palestinians in East Jerusalem will be allowed to vote in the PA elections as Israel has annexed the territory since its occupation in 1967. Israel does not allow PA activities there. The Palestinians in East Jerusalem are considered as “permanent residents of Israel” unlike Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. In the last election in 2006, Israel had allowed the Palestinians in the city to vote.