Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced Friday the Palestinian Authority (PA) will hold their first parliamentary and presidential elections since 2006, as reported by Reuters. Abbas’ decision was cheered on by the terror group Hamas, according to Reuters.
The first elections for the PA since 2006 will attempt to heal internal divisions in the territory, Reuters reported. Others say the decision is to legitimize the PA because of the criticisms levied by other countries on PA institutions and Abbas’ presidency, according to Reuters.
Abbas gave the decree to hold election to Hana Naser, the chairman of the Palestinian Central Election Committee in Ramallah on Friday, according to Reuters. The decree says elections will be held for legislative positions on May 22, and the presidency on July 31, Reuters reported.
“The President instructed the election committee and all state apparatuses to launch a democratic election process in all cities of the homeland,” the decree said, according to Reuters.
Abbas’ decision comes as the United States undergoes a transition of power from President Donald Trump to President-elect Joe Biden.
Trump brokered multiple landmark peace agreements between Israel and Arab countries as the region faces a more aggressive Iran, Reuters reported.
We flipped the script. For decades, foreign policy “experts” claimed we had to forge peace between Israel and the Palestinians before we could get peace deals in the region. We proved them all wrong. #AbrahamAccords pic.twitter.com/rwJzta8LG7
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) January 13, 2021
Those deals, brokered by the outgoing Trump administration, dismayed Palestinians and left them increasingly isolated in a region that has seen allegiances shift to reflect shared fears of Iran by Israel and Sunni-led Gulf Arab states, Reuters reported.
— Reuters (@Reuters) January 15, 2021
The Islamic militant group is one of Abbas’ domestic political rivals, Reuters reported. Hamas captured the most seats in the legislature during the 2006 elections. A year later in 2007, the group took military control of the Gaza Strip. (RELATED: Islamic Jihad, Hamas, PFLP Hold First Joint Drill In Gaza To Prepare For Confronting Israel)
Hamas said it wants an election where “electorates can express their will without restrictions or pressures, and with full justice and transparency,” according to Reuters.
A poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found Abbas’ party, Fatah, had a four point lead in parliamentary elections, but Hamas’ presidential candidate, Ismail Haniyyeh, led Abbas by 7%.
When Abbas was elected to the presidency in 2005, Hamas did not produce a candidate to run against him, according to Reuters.