Archive for August, 2016

Aug 02 2016

Will upcoming Palestinian local elections pave way for general elections?

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

In October 2012, a previously unknown English professor was nominated by the Fatah movement for mayor of Bethlehem. Vera Baboun, a mother of five, beat a male opponent supported by the Islamic Hamas movement and has become a well-known icon in Bethlehem and the world. Since her election, Baboun has met Pope Francis, US President Barack Obama and other world leaders, and has attended the annual Christmas Eve mass (held three times on Dec. 24) every year since.

The decision of Fatah to nominate a respected woman rather than the usual party activists was taken as a result of the 2006 parliamentary defeat and the desire to win. But the Fatah movement is more divided now than ever and Palestinian satisfaction with President Mahmoud Abbas is at a low 34%, according to a June 7 poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.

Nearly 2 million Palestinians are eligible to vote in 141 municipalities (local councils) and 275 village councils in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the spokesman for the Central Elections Commission told Al-Monitor by email.

The Palestinian Basic Law calls for municipal elections once every four years, but since the signing of the Oslo Accord in 1993, only two municipal elections have taken place. Gaza and the West Bank held unified municipal elections in 2004, and that was the last time the Gaza Strip has held municipal elections because of the split between Gaza and the West Bank. In 2012, municipal elections took place in the West Bank only. Continue Reading »

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Aug 02 2016

Palestinian municipal polls will create movement

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

The stagnant Palestinian political waters will soon experience some movement. The French efforts to hold an international conference will kick into high gear this fall, starting with the UN General Assembly.

On the ground in Palestine, the October 8 local polls are expected to see nearly 2 million Palestinians participate in the election of the members of some 416 municipal and local village councils.

What is new this time around is that the Islamist Hamas movement has agreed to participate and its security forces in control of the besieged strip will allow Gazans to participate in the elections.

The last time the people of Gaza participated in any form of elections was in 2006 when the pro-Hamas change and reform list swept the majority of seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council, a result that led to the appointment of Ismail Haniyeh as prime minister. 

In 2012, Hamas refused to allow Gazans to participate in local elections, leaving the poll to be taken only in the West Bank. Continue Reading »

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