Hamas participation in polls aims at ending siege

Group’s decision to take part in Palestinian municipal polls is aimed at breaking longstanding Gaza siege, experts say

Hamas participation in polls aims at ending siege

World Bulletin / News Desk

The recent decision by Hamas to take part in upcoming Palestinian municipal polls reflects the group’s understanding of political realities regarding the decade-long embargo of the Gaza Strip, say experts. 

"Many observers had thought that Hamas would not allow -- or participate -- in local elections," Mukhaimar Abu Saada, a political science professor at Gaza City’s Al-Azhar University, said.

"But it seems Hamas has taken the decision [to take part in the poll] in order to break the siege on Gaza," Abu Saada said.

Hamas on Wednesday announced its intention to compete in upcoming polls set for October.

"We call on the Palestinians to participate in the elections," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said. 

"The polls will help guarantee that the Palestinian people receive the public services they need," he said. 

The announcement came only a few days after the group -- which has governed the blockaded Gaza Strip since 2007 -- said it would allow local polls to be held in the territory.

"We affirm the importance of conducting local elections in the [Israeli-occupied] West Bank and Gaza Strip," Hamas said in a statement issued last Friday. 

"We will spare no effort to facilitate the holding of these elections in line with the interests of the Palestinian people," the group added. 

Hamas boycotted the last Palestinian municipal polls in 2012 due to ongoing differences between the Gaza-based group and the West Bank-based Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

This time around, Hamas plans to nominate candidates who will run on a list of "technocrats" and prominent tribal figures with expertise in municipal affairs, especially the provision of public services.

On Sunday, senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh met with Hanna Naser, the head of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission, to discuss preparations for the upcoming polls. 

Following the meeting, Hamas leader Khalil al-Hayah said that the group would "work to facilitate the upcoming local elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with a view to ensuring their success". 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 21 Temmuz 2016, 16:55