Ma'an News Agency
February 3, 2011 - 1:00am

Palestinian Authority Minister of Local Governance Khaled Al-Qawasmeh confirmed Wednesday that the West Bank government would make a decision on the date of municipal elections in the coming session of the Central Election Committee.

The elections would likely come in May, the official said, at least two weeks earlier than the likely date an official from Fatah estimated speaking with Ma'an on Tuesday.

Fatah Central Committee member Muhammad Al-Madani had said the PA was "adamant" that elections be held on July 17, 2011, one year after they were supposed to have taken place.

In 2010, Hamas officials in the Gaza government said they would not participate in municipal elections, citing mistrust in the West Bank-initiated process.

On Tuesday, Hamas again announced that it would not participate in the upcoming vote, releasing a statement saying "The atmosphere in the West Bank does not allow fair elections under Salam Fayyad’s government."

Governance minister Al-Qawasmeh said that while "We hoped Hamas would not oppose holding the elections in the Gaza strip, if such scenario occurs, elections will be held in the West Bank only."

On Jan. 21, Al-Qawasmeh told gathered civil society groups in Nablus that the PA was working on amending the elections law so a West Bank only vote could be held.

Even with a vote that excluded Gaza, the official said, the process of renewal and elections could "contribute to regaining national unity."

From Gaza, the Popular Resistance Committees issued a statement saying it considered the announcement of elections "null," adding that it "does not reflect any national need, and will only exacerbate the internal split."

By moving forward with elections, the statement said, "the PA has confirmed that it does not care about unity and the needs of the people."

Elections, the statement continued, were a process that must involve all parties, "they cannot go forward with only some actors."

After the PA called off elections that had been set during the summer of 2010, leftist Palestinian factions took the issue to court, securing a mandate forcing the government in Ramallah hold elections.

Leftists accused the PA of canceling the vote when a strong combined list threatened to win over Fatah in several districts.


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