Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 27 October 2020

Palestinian rivals agree 'in principle' to hold elections in six months

There has been no presidential, parliamentary or PLO election in years given a deep schism between Fatah and Hamas

During Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' leadership, the peace process has gone nowhere. Reuters
During Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' leadership, the peace process has gone nowhere. Reuters

Palestinian factions have agreed to hold an election within six months, in the latest of many attempts to end more than a decade of infighting between President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement and his hardline rival Hamas.

The factions renewed reconciliation efforts after Israel reached diplomatic accords this month with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, an event that prompted Palestinian leaders to try to present a united front.

"The two sides have agreed in principle to hold elections within six months," said Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas official in Istanbul, where officials from both groups met over the past two days.

Fatah official Jibril Al Rajoub confirmed the agreement and said Mr Abbas would issue a decree setting a date.

But he said the vote would be in stages – starting with parliament, then electing a new president and finally choosing members of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Palestinians' highest decision-making body.

The rivals have been unable to repair a rift from 2007, when Hamas, considered a terrorist group by Israel and many Western countries, seized control of the Gaza Strip. Abbas's Western-backed Palestinian Authority remains dominant in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The Palestinians have opposed Israel's deals with the UAE and Bahrain, even as both countries insist that it does not change their support for Palestine or the need for a comprehensive two-state solution with East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

The UAE's agreement with Israel was contingent on the freezing of annexation of Palestinian lands.

Updated: September 24, 2020 07:02 PM

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