Hamas: Postponement of Palestinian Elections Will Push People Into ‘the Unknown’
i24 News – Any change to the timetable for the first Palestinian elections in 15 years would deal a heavy blow to efforts to reconcile the rival administrations in Gaza and the West Bank, a top Hamas official warned.
On May 22, Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and eastern Jerusalem are readying to head to the polls for the first time since 2006, a vote to be followed in July by a presidential election.
But many Palestinians and observers believe that the legislative elections will once again be postponed or even canceled.
The head of the Hamas list for next month’s vote, Khalil al-Hayya, said any postponement, however small, would undermine efforts to restore unity.
“A postponement would push the Palestinian people into the unknown, and I warn that this will complicate the situation, perpetuate and reinforce the division,” Hayya said in an AFP interview.
“This would cause great frustration among the population and young people, and could lead to serious reactions,” said Hayya, the second most powerful Hamas leader in Gaza after political chief Yahya Sinwar.
Earlier this month, a top adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Sha’at, reportedly told Hebrew-language daily Maariv that the elections will likely be delayed due to Israel’s failure to respond to Ramallah’s request to hold elections in eastern Jerusalem
The Palestinian newspaper al-Quds also quoted an unnamed US official as stating that the Biden administration would not object to the postponement, adding that Washington was well aware of the challenges facing Abbas.
Hayya said Hamas strongly opposed the measures taken by Israel in eastern Jerusalem and appealed for US and European support for free and fair elections.
“We warn against the obstruction of the elections by the occupation forces,” he said. “This could lead some people toward other options such as extremism, violence, and terrorism.”
Opinion polls suggest there is unlikely to be a repetition of the upset landslide Hamas won over Fatah in the last parliamentary election in 2006, pushing the Palestinians to the brink of civil war the following year.
Abbas’s party is expected to win the largest number of the 132 seats in parliament, although well short of a majority.