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Sunday, 01 August 2021

Palestinian delegations head to Egypt for second round of election talks

The Cairo-based talks are scheduled to start on Tuesday, following the first round that was held in the Egyptian capital last month and resulted in an agreement on the mechanisms for holding elections

Yasser Seddiq , Monday 15 Mar 2021
Gaza
(Front L to R) Hamas ranking members Khalil Al-Hayya and Ruwhi Mushtaha stand outside the VIP hall at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip on March 15, 2021 as a delegation from Gaza travels to Egypt for talks with Fatah ahead of the Palestinian elections scheduled later in the month. AFP
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Delegations from Palestinian factions and groups from the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and abroad are heading to Cairo to participate in a new round of talks in a bid to overcome obstacles facing the upcoming Palestinian general elections.

The factions arrived at the Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt on their way to Cairo, while other delegations have left the West Bank via Jordan, and will be joined by delegations residing outside the Palestinian territories.

The parliamentary elections are set to be held on 22 May and the presidential elections have been set for 31 July.

The two-day talks are scheduled to commence on Tuesday after the first round that was held in Cairo last month and resulted in an agreement on the mechanisms for holding the elections.

This second round of dialogue focuses mainly on the elections for the National Council and the reactivation and building of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

Last month, the Palestinian factions held a meeting in Cairo, during which they discussed several issues related to the Palestinian elections and reached an agreement to hold another meeting in March.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine confirmed earlier that the Cairo-based meeting scheduled for this month to discuss the issue of the National Council will be held on time, dismissing reports that the meeting would be postponed until after the parliamentary elections.

There would be no backtracking on the decision to hold the general elections, presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said on Monday.

Speaking to Voice of Palestine, Abu Rudeineh announced that the decision to hold the general elections would not be reversed because elections are a “democratic and a popular requirement,” while affirming that they would be held based on clear and proper rules.

He added that the Fatah movement is determined to run on one unified electoral list in the first full presidential and parliamentary elections in 15 years.

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Hamas leaders Essam Aldalis (L) Ruwhi Mushtaha (C) Khalil Al-Hayya (R) walk outside the VIP hall at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip on March 15, 2021 as they travel to Egypt for talks with Fatah ahead of the Palestinian elections scheduled later in the month. AFP

In a statement, the Front called on everyone to adhere to holding all legislative, presidential and National Council elections as stipulated in the presidential decree, and what has been agreed upon nationally in this regard.

It also called on everyone to "stop issuing any statements that could lead to confusion in the Palestinian arena and create negative climates that would affect the public situation eager for elections as a station for democratic change and in order to end the division."

The factions will discuss the possibility of forming joint electoral lists to run in the legislative elections, as the door to candidacy for the elections will be opened on the 20th of this month.

In this regard, Hamas spokesman Abd Al-Latif Al-Qanoo said that the best option for Hamas is to participate in a unified national list that includes all political spectrums to face the current challenges and to strengthen the state of participation.

In a written press statement, Al-Qanoo said that Hamas has not yet decided how to participate in the legislative elections, "but if a unified national list is not formed, there are other options that it will proceed with."

The factions' meetings in Cairo will also discuss consensus on the mechanisms for holding the PLO elections.

Deputy Secretary-General of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine Qais Abu Laila said that the factions are seeking to "reach a comprehensive consensus to complete the discussion of arrangements for holding elections in all their stages and ending the internal division by rebuilding the Palestinian political system."

Abu Laila told Palestinian radio that "rebuilding the Palestinian political system is led by agreement on the mechanisms and foundations that are agreed upon in order to form the National Council of the Liberation Organisation with the participation of all forces."

A delegation from the Palestinian Central Elections Commission will participate in the meetings in Cairo to discuss practical mechanisms for conducting legislative and presidential elections.

Officials in the Election Commission announced that they would ask the factions to agree on a unified reference for the security of the electoral process, whether in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, in light of the effects of the internal division that has continued since mid-2007.

The Palestinian factions agreed last month on mechanisms for holding the elections, including assigning the police to supervise the security of the polls, which will be the first of their kind since 2006.

Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in 2007 from Fatah forces during a brief round of fighting. Differences over power-sharing have delayed the implementation of unity deals agreed upon since then.

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