News ID: 302624
Published: 1249 GMT April 30, 2021

Palestinian president postpones first elections in 15 years as Hamas denounces ‘coup’

Palestinian president postpones first elections in 15 years as Hamas denounces ‘coup’

A screen displaying a live broadcast of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's speech during a meeting to discuss upcoming elections is seen in a coffee shop in Ramallah in the West Bank on April 29, 2021.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said early Friday that the main factions have agreed to delay the first elections planned in 15 years, citing a dispute with Israel over voting in East Al-Quds.

Abbas, 85, blamed Israel for uncertainty about whether it would allow the legislative election to proceed in East Al-Quds as well as in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, Reuters reported.

The decision came three months after he announced the first national elections for 15 years.

The dispute over East Al-Quds was the principal reason cited by Abbas in a speech early Friday following a meeting of Palestinian political factions.

"Facing this difficult situation, we decided to postpone the date of holding legislative elections until the participation of Jerusalem [Al-Quds] and its people is guaranteed," Abbas said in the speech on Palestinian TV.

The delay of the elections set for May is likely to draw intense domestic criticism, with Abbas and his allies weakened by challengers from within his own divided Fatah party.

It was not immediately clear whether a presidential vote scheduled for July would go ahead.

The Palestinian Central Elections Commission said it was suspending the election process following Abbas's decision. The election campaign was supposed to begin on Friday.

Protesters in Gaza and the West Bank called for the elections to proceed as scheduled – for many it would be their first election.


Hamas denounces decision


The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas denounced Abbass decision, calling it a coup”, Press TV reported.

This represents a coup against the path of partnership and national consensus. Our popular and national consensus cannot be pawned as collateral for the agenda of a faction,” Hamas said in a statement.

We knew in advance that Fatah and the Palestinian Authority were going to disrupt the electoral process, due to other interests that have nothing to do with the issue of Al-Quds,” the statement added.

The Fatah movement and the Palestinian president bear full responsibility for this decision and its consequences,” it added.

Fatah split into three factions ahead of the upcoming elections — an official list of candidates backed by Abbas; a faction led by Palestinian political figure Marwan Barghouti; and another slate sponsored by former Fatah security official Mohammad Dahlan, who currently resides in Abu Dhabi.

Like Hamas, Barghoutis list strongly opposed postponing the vote.

Postponing elections is a huge setback that betrays the will of the people to hold elections. It also affirms the need for deep and wide change in the Palestinian political system,” the list of candidates wrote in a statement.

Internal rifts surfaced in Abbas's Fatah party when Barghouti and Nasser Al-Qudwa – a nephew of the party's late founder Yasser Arafat – announced a rival slate of candidates to run against Abbas's official lineup.

Israeli authorities have also made many efforts to either cancel or postpone the polls.

Israeli forces have escalated an arrest campaign targeting key Hamas figures in the West Bank in recent months.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called the Abbass decision "deeply disappointing" and said a new election date "should be set without delay".




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