After much delay, the Palestinian people will go to the polls on July 9 to partake in local council elections, Palestinian Authority (PA) spokesman Ghassan Khatib announced Tuesday, in an apparent attempt to prevent the uprising in Egypt from expanding into the Palestinian Authority. The PA has not held elections since 2006, leaving President Mahmoud Abbas and members of parliament in office after their terms ended in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
In the 2006 elections, Hamas succeeded in winning a large majority in the new Palestinian parliament; nevertheless, Hamas has rejected July’s elections, stating they will not be held in Gaza until Hamas and Fatah reach a reconciliation agreement. The PA has said that the balloting will be held only in the West Bank if Hamas does not allow voting to take place in Gaza.
A Palestinian man votes for the Parliamentary elections on January 25, 2006.
Since 2007, when Hamas took control over the Gaza Strip in a bloody coup, the two main Palestinian factions have held multiple reconciliation talks, but to no avail. And with the imminent end of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, those talks are unlikely to continue anytime soon as Mubarak was a main supporter of Fatah in the discussions.
That Hamas will not participate in the next Palestinian elections is not surprising, the group does not support democracy in the Gaza Strip, and its actions since 2006 have shown that its participation in those elections was not a change in ideology but a method of gaining power in the Palestinian Territories. Indeed, to support the elections would mean to chance relinquishing its grip on the Gaza Strip – its base for coordinating attacks against Israel. And that Hamas simply cannot do.