Hamas to run for local Palestinian elections for the first time in 10 years

Published July 16th, 2016 - 12:00 GMT
Hamas leaders Ismail Haniya (L), Abu Obaida (C) and Mussa Abu Marzuq (R) greet supporters. (AFP/File)
Hamas leaders Ismail Haniya (L), Abu Obaida (C) and Mussa Abu Marzuq (R) greet supporters. (AFP/File)

The Hamas movement announced their intentions to participate in local elections in October across the occupied Palestinian territory, according to a statement released by the group on Friday, paving the way for elections to be held in the besieged Gaza Strip for the first time in a decade.

Hamas declared their commitment to successful local elections in the statement, and reiterated the importance of holding local elections in both the occupied West Bank and Gaza “in a way that serves the interests of our people.”

The statement also stressed the need to further develop democratic principles and processes in the Palestinian territory. Hamas cited fair elections as the most productive way to ensure democracy in the territory. 

The Palestinian Authority-controlled cabinet in the West Bank, dominated by Hamas’ political rival Fatah, announced their decision to hold elections last month, but it remained uncertain whether Hamas and the Gaza Strip would be included in the process, after the movement boycotted the last local elections in 2012 in response to alleged corruption and intimidation among Fatah officials. 

Analysts have claimed that Hamas’ participation in local elections could signal the possibility of long-overdue general elections being held in the West Bank and Gaza. 

The last elections in the Gaza Strip were held in 2006, when Hamas’ victory erupted into a violent conflict between Hamas and Fatah as both groups attempted to take control of the small Palestinian territory. 

Gaza was placed under an Israeli military siege in 2007 following Hamas' victory in the general elections and subsequent takeover of the Gaza Strip. The nearly decade-long siege has severely crippled the economy and further isolated the Gaza Strip from the rest of the Palestinian territory.

The two parties reached a reconciliation agreement in 2014, but its practical implementation was met with failure as a result of Hamas’ weariness of relinquishing control of the Gaza Strip and numerous political disagreements between the two groups.

Fatah and Hamas officials held reconciliation talks last month in the Qatari capital of Doha in order to discuss practical strategies of implementing a viable reconciliation agreement. However, reconciliation talks have continued to fall apart as both parties blame each other for a variety of political failures in the West Bank and Gaza. 

 

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