RAMALLAH, West Bank – The Palestinian Election Commission has announced that municipal elections will be held in December in the West Bank and Gaza, if Hamas allows voting in the enclave.
The last municipal election was held in the West Bank four years ago, but Hamas, the Islamist terrorist group that rules the Gaza Strip, has blocked such an election since taking power in 2007.
“We have set the electoral calendar, but we do not know whether Hamas will allow the holding of municipal elections in Gaza,” said Farid Taamallah, spokesman for the Election Commission, an independent body based in Ramallah.
“We are waiting for the Palestinian government to coordinate with Gaza and inform us of what will be decided,” he told AFP.
Hamas and the secular Fatah party of Mahmoud Abbas, president of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, have been at odds since the 2007 coup.
The municipal vote would take place in 387 localities in the West Bank and Gaza on December 11, and then in 90 other localities at a later date which has not yet been fixed, Taamallah said.
Of the 477 polling stations, only 11 were in Gaza, he noted.
The refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza would not be affected by the municipal elections as they are managed by UNRWA, a United Nations agency.
In April, Abbas postponed the legislative and presidential elections scheduled for May and July, which were to be the first of their kind in 15 years, saying Israel had not given assurances that it would leave the Palestinians in East Jerusalem participate.
Abbas’s presidential term was due to end in 2009.
Hamas called Abbas’ postponement a “coup against (their) partnership” and said he “would bear full responsibility for the decision and its consequences.”