Palestinians to hold elections in July

Palestinian Authority has announced that it would be holding local municipal elections in the West Bank and Gaza on July 9.

Last Updated: Feb 09, 2011, 11:05 AM IST

Jerusalem: Wary of the turmoil in the Arab
world, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has announced that it
would be holding local municipal elections in the West Bank
and Gaza on July 9.

Local elections were last held in the Palestinian
territories in 2005, when Hamas succeeded in overtaking a
number of cities in the West Bank.

This success later led to its landslide victory in the
parliamentary elections a year later.

The PA has been trying to set a date for the elections
for some time, but it appears that the uprising in Egypt
forced them to fast track the process to prevent similar
occurrences in the West Bank.

However, Islamist Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip
since June 2007 after vanquishing security forces loyal to PA
in pitched street fights, has decided to boycott the vote.

"These elections are legally invalid and the authority
and the Palestinian government in the West Bank have lost the
citizens` support," Hamas spokesman, Fawzi Barhoum said.

"We will not be a part of this farce. We will not be a
part of its consequences," Barhoum stressed.

Hamas announced last week it would object to elections
until a truce could be declared between Gaza and Ramallah.

The Islamist faction also accused the PA, whose control
is limited to the West Bank, of trying to divert attention
from the publication of secret documents regarding peace talks
with Israel.

"The Palestinian Authority`s decision to declare
elections at this time is not a coincidence," Hamas said in a
statement.

Secret documents related to peace talks between PA and
Israel recently revealed by Al-Jazeera network claimed that
the Palestinian leadership was willing to make major
concessions to the Jewish state on the issue of West Bank
settlements and right of return of Palestinian refugees.

PA has refrained from responding to Hamas` accusations,
but announced that if it refused to take part in the elections
they would be held solely in the West Bank.

PTI