Ramallah court suspends planned Palestinian elections

Polls would have seen Hamas and Fatah directly compete for first time in decade

Ramallah court suspends planned Palestinian elections

World Bulletin / News Desk

The Ramallah-based Palestinian High Court on Thursday suspended Palestinian municipal polls set for later this year that would have seen Palestine’s two main political movements -- Hamas and Fatah -- directly compete against one another for the first time in a decade. 

The court ostensibly postponed the vote in order to look into complaints that the planned election would not cover Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem and allegations that courts in the Gaza Strip -- governed by Hamas since 2007 -- "lacked legitimacy". 

Court officials reportedly plan to reconvene on Dec. 21 after looking into the complaints and allegations. 

Notably, the decision came shortly after a Gaza-based court ruled to annul five Fatah-linked electoral lists. 

"This ruling [annulling the Fatah-linked lists] was issued by a Hamas-run court [in Gaza] with a view to derailing the upcoming polls," Gaza-based Fatah spokesman Fayez Abu Eita said in a statement. 

Jamil al-Khalidi, however, the Gaza-based regional director of the independent Central Election Commission, told Anadolu Agency that the Gaza court's ruling was "in accordance with commission regulations". 

Last week, the election commission itself annulled four Fatah-linked electoral lists in the Gaza Strip.

The polls had been scheduled to take place in October in both the Gaza Strip and the Israel-occupied West Bank. 

In the past, the Israeli authorities have consistently prevented Palestinian voting in municipal polls in occupied East Jerusalem, which the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority views as the Palestinian capital. 

"Why does Jerusalem not have a [Palestinian] municipal council or General Secretariat to represent the masses?" prominent Palestinian politician Mustafa Barghouti wrote on The Palestine Chronicle news website last week. 

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the Jewish state in a move never recognized by the international community. 

Hamas, meanwhile, voiced its rejection of Thursday’s court ruling by the Ramallah-based high court, describing it as "a political -- rather than legal -- move".

"The court issued this ruling in order to rescue Fatah after several of the latter’s electoral lists were annulled," Hamas said in a Thursday statement.

The last elections in the Palestinian territories -- legislative polls held in 2006 -- saw Hamas win 76 out of 132 seats on the Palestinian Legislative Council. 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 08 Eylül 2016, 14:30