In 15 years, Palestine is expected to hold its first national elections

On Friday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared that parliamentary and presidential elections will take place later this year in the Sovereign State. These elections, held for the first time in 15 years, are aimed at restoring the persistent tensions in the Palestinian household.

According to a decree issued by the Office of Abbas, the Palestinian Legislative Council will hold a vote on 22 May, which will be followed by a presidential election on 31 July. The decree added that the President ordered the electoral committee and all state apparatuses in all governorates, including Gaza, the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, to begin a democratic electoral procedure.

East Jerusalem was annexed by Israel after the war in 1967 and has been considered an occupied territory ever since. Noting that all Palestinian activities in East Jerusalem have been barred by Israel, it is still not clear if PA voting will take place in the region.This has occurred at a time when the Palestinian Authority is working to improve its ties with the United States and the Arab States, particularly after the normalisation of links between Israel and the countries of the Middle East. The Palestinian President is trying to resume talks with Israel with the new Joe Biden administration, all set to open in Washington on January 20.Experts have suggested that President Abbas is also trying to re-establish his credibility in the international community with this election.

Hamas, an Islamic militant organisation and the key competitor of Abbas, accepted the presidential decree and called for fair and transparent elections. Hamas also promised, issuing a statement, that it will work for the successful conduct of the upcoming elections. “In recent months, we have been working to resolve all obstacles so that we can reach this day,” his statement said.

In 2006, Palestine experienced its last parliamentary elections, which resulted in Hamas’ victory. In the aftermath of the elections, however, clashes erupted between Fatah, led by Abbas, and Hamas, which lasted for more than a year. The political divide came to an end with the 2007 Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip.In the Palestinian Authority, the election process has since been halted. Eighty-five-year-old Mahmoud Abbas, who currently heads Fatah, the largest Palestinian political group, won the presidency in early 2005 after the death of Yasir Arafat, his predecessor.For several years now, both Fatah and Hamas have been facing public ridicule for not being able to mend their conflicts.