Palestinians yearning for new elections

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, right, meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly in New York. (AFP)
Updated 28 September 2019

Palestinians yearning for new elections

  • ‘Idea is for all to be represented in the first true unity government’

AMMAN: Palestinians welcomed the call by President Mahmoud Abbas made at the UN General Assembly for general elections in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Nabil Shaath, senior adviser to Abbas, told Arab News that the election idea had been presented to Hamas via the Egyptians repeatedly. According to Shaath, the Palestinian proposal will help resolve the current Palestinian division and stalemate: “The offer for elections is to produce a representative unity government regardless of who wins.”
Shaath said that the idea is for all to be represented in the first true unity government, which would help ease the current unification. “The idea combines democratic and pluralistic principles. It will not be winner takes all but a representative government based on election results. Once a unity government is established with all parties in it, we can move to the next step of a presidential elections,” he said.
Prime Minister Mohamad Shtayyeh, who is participating in the Ministerial Meeting of the International Donor Group for Palestine in New York, said that his government is ready to immediately begin all necessary steps to hold elections.
“After the announcement made by President Abbas, we are ready to proceed with the preparations for elections as has been detailed in the letter of appointment of our government,” said Shtayyeh in a statement by the Palestinian government.

It is true that the international community has failed, Europe is ineffective and Israel is in denial, but at the same time Palestinians badly need unity to move forward.

Nahed Abu Tuimeh, lecturer, Bir Zeit University

Majed Aruri, executive director of the Commission for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Rule of Law, said that the offer made by Abbas in New York is serious. “Abbas made the announcement at the UN General Assembly so that the international community will support the elections and renew Palestinian democratic life.”
Aruri agreed with Shaath that the elections could be an instrument to end the division and allow a new leadership to emerge. “Elections will allow us to enter the difficult battle for liberation with a unified and legitimate leadership.”
Samir Abdallah, senior researcher at the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute, told Arab News that the election offer is not new and it is challenged by the same problems it has always faced. “Successful elections require both Hamas and Israel to agree to them and this is not possible at the present time in my view.”
Nahed Abu Tuimeh, a lecturer in gender sensitivity at Birzeit University, said that Palestinians genuinely want to have elections but it is not clear yet if the circumstances are ripe. “It is true that the international community has failed, Europe is ineffective and Israel is in denial, but at the same time Palestinians badly need unity to move forward.”
Abu Tuimeh, who was born in Gaza but lives in Ramallah, doubts that Hamas is willing to agree to elections: “I don’t believe that Hamas will agree to lose what it has held on for some time through elections.”


Saudi Arabia condemns deadly Houthi mosque attack

Updated 7 min 59 sec ago

Saudi Arabia condemns deadly Houthi mosque attack

  • The Houthis attacked a mosque in a military camp in the central province of Marib

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry have condemned an attack by Houthi militia on a mosque in the Marib province of Yemen, killing 83 people, state news agency SPA reported on Monday.

The Houthis attacked a mosque in a military camp in the central province of Marib — about 170 kilometers (105 miles) east of the capital Sanaa — during evening prayers, military sources told AFP.

“We strongly condemn the terrorist attack on a mosque by the Houthi militias... which left more than 100 dead and dozens injured,” the Yemeni foreign ministry said on Twitter.

The victims were transported to a Marib city hospital, where a medical source earlier gave a toll of 83 dead and 148 injured.