Person voting

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is determined to hold the first Palestinian legislative elections in 13 years, but analysts said the move faces tough challenges amid ongoing Palestinian internal split.

On Monday, Abbas designated the Central Elections Commission (CEC) to start contacting the Palestinian factions to prepare for holding the legislative elections in the Palestinian territories.

The elections will elect a new parliament, better known as the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), which has been inactive for many years.

Abbas wants to hold the legislative elections first. However, the rival Islamic Hamas movement that controls the Gaza Strip insists that both legislative and presidential elections be held at the same time.

Abdul Majid Sweilem, a Ramallah-based political analyst, said in an article on the Al-Ayyam daily newspaper that Abbas wants to hold the legislative elections to boost the legitimate representation of the Palestinian people.

“Abbas wants to foil the American plan, known as the Deal of the Century, which is rejected by the Palestinians, by holding the legislative elections, which would give the Palestinian Authority full control on one united geographical territory, including East Jerusalem,” he said.

Holding the legislative elections first is more important because it unifies the Palestinian territories and will end the protracted internal division between Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah party.

The last legislative elections were held in the Palestinian territories in January 2006, when Hamas won an overwhelming majority in the PLC.

However, the parliament has been inoperative since the internal Palestinian split between Hamas and Fatah began in 2007 after Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip.

Ashraf al-Ajrami, a political analyst and a former Palestinian Authority minister, expressed his worry about the continuing Palestinian internal split.

While noting that holding the elections is essential to fulfill any future political vacuum, he warned against bringing the Palestinian political arena into a more complicated situation in light of the upcoming announcement of the date for the legislative elections.

Al-Ajrami told Xinhua that Abbas is determined to hold the legislative elections, even if Hamas refuses to join and bars the elections in the Gaza Strip.

“In this case, the legislative elections will be conducted on the basis of proportional representation … even if there is no vote in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip,” he said, adding that this would deepen the internal division.

Under Egypt’s mediation, the PA and Hamas have held several negotiations in a bid to end their disputes. So far, all the efforts to end the internal split have failed.

Hani al-Masri, chairman of Masarat for Researches and Studies based in Ramallah, said that holding incompatible elections will exacerbate deterioration and accelerate the transformation of the internal division into complete secession.

“This scenario is very dangerous and will eliminate any remaining hope for ending the internal Palestinian division,” he warned. Enditem

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