Abbas’s decision to delay elections sparks public outcry – The Jerusalem Post

Palestinian civil society organizations and several factions and figures warned over the weekend that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s decision to postpone the general elections would deepen divisions among the Palestinians and lead to “chaos and military dictatorship.”
Abbas’s political opponents condemned the decision as a “big catastrophe” and called on the PA president to proceed with the elections.
Ignoring the public outcry, Abbas on Friday issued a decree in which he postponed the elections. In his decree, Abbas claimed that Israel has “prevented preparations for the elections and holding them in occupied Jerusalem.”
The decree came hours after he announced the postponement of the elections after a meeting in Ramallah of leaders of various Palestinian factions.
Abbas said that international efforts to exert pressure on Israel to allow the elections to take place in Jerusalem had failed. He said that the Palestinians were ready to hold elections as soon as Israel agrees to their request to hold the vote in Jerusalem.
The civil society organizations called for “creating an atmosphere for dialogue, respecting public freedoms and forming a Palestinian national unity government.”
In a statement, the organizations said the decision to delay the elections carries great risk.

“Had they taken place, the elections could have constituted an important step toward the restoration of national unity, which has deteriorated significantly due to the power struggle between Abbas’s Fatah faction and Hamas,” the statement read. “The decision to postpone the elections could perpetuate the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”
The organizations called on the PA government to start preparations for holding elections within six months.
The Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights expressed “deep regret” over the postponement of the election, warning that the move would jeopardize the stability of the Palestinian political system, civic peace, national unity and public freedoms.
The ICHR called on the international community to put pressure on Israel to allow the elections to take place in Jerusalem. It also called on Abbas to set new dates for the parliamentary and presidential elections, which were scheduled for May 22 and July 31 respectively.
HAMAS DENOUNCED Abbas’s decision, dubbing it a “coup” against agreements reached with Fatah and other factions in the past few months.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh described Abbas’s decision as “unfortunate,” saying it plunged the Palestinian arena into a state of “semi-vacuum.”
“Postponing the elections means canceling them and confiscating the political rights of the Palestinians,” Haniyeh said. “There is no disagreement over the necessity of holding elections in Jerusalem. The disagreement is over making a Palestinian decision dependent on the decision of the Israeli occupation.”
A number of Hamas officials accused Abbas of using the Jerusalem issue as an excuse to delay the elections and “prevent Palestinians from practicing their constitutional right.”
They said that Abbas made the decision because of mounting tensions in Fatah, especially after veteran officials of the faction, including Nasser al-Kidwa and Marwan Barghouti, decided to run on a separate slate.
The PLO’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said that Abbas’s decision “casts doubt on the seriousness of the Palestinian leadership about ending the split [between the West Bank and Gaza Strip] and restoring national unity.”
The PFLP also warned that the decision would deepen the crisis in the Palestinian arena.
Professor Sari Nusseibeh, a prominent Palestinian academic and former PLO representative in Jerusalem, called on Abbas to resign.
“I think that Abbas must submit his resignation,” said Nusseibeh, who was running as a candidate on Al-Mustaqbal list, which is affiliated with exiled Fatah operative Mohammed Dahlan. “Halting the electoral process is a dangerous decision that opens the door wide for civil disobedience against the Palestinian Authority.”
Hanan Ashrawi, who recently resigned from the PLO Executive Committee, commented on Twitter: “The excitement, enthusiasm and energy with which the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories welcomed the prospect of legislative, presidential and [PLO] Palestinian National Council elections were instantly transformed into profound disappointment and anger. Jerusalem is the essence of defiance, not a pretext for subverting democracy!”
Defending Abbas’s move, PA presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh said the decision to postpone the elections “aims at preserving top national interests, on top of which is the issue of occupied Jerusalem.”
In an interview with the PA’s Voice of Palestine radio station, he added that “holding the elections without Jerusalem means an implementation of [former US President Donald Trump’s] Deal of the Century.”
According to Abu Rudaineh, the PA leadership tried by all means to hold the elections in Jerusalem, but “received a negative answer from Israel.”
He dismissed the widespread criticism by many Palestinians as being part of “a campaign of disinformation carried out by suspicious parties to undermine the Palestinian national decision.”

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Abbas’s decision to delay elections sparks public outcry – The Jerusalem Post

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