Fatah and Hamas agree to hold general elections in Palestine

Palestine’s two main political parties, Fatah and Hamas, have agreed to hold general elections within the next six months. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 24 September 2020

Fatah and Hamas agree to hold general elections in Palestine

  • The official Palestinian news agency quoted Rajoub as saying that the elections will take place at three stages within six months
  • Hamas’ spokesman in Gaza said the meeting confirmed the basis of a new initiative aimed at forging a policy course “based on unity and power-sharing”

AMMAN: Palestine’s two main political parties, Fatah and Hamas, have agreed to hold general elections within the next six months, they announced on Thursday.
A press release issued after a meeting held at the Palestinian Embassy in Istanbul said the two delegations had reached “a unified vision.”
“We agree that the vision has matured and we plan to move ahead with a nationwide dialogue with the participation of all factions under the patronage of President (Mahmoud) Abbas to take place before the first of October,” the statement said.
Jibril Rajoub, secretary general of the Fatah Central Committee, told Palestine TV that the heads of all factions will meet soon in Ramallah and that that meeting will be followed by the issuance of a presidential decree announcing the elections.
The official Palestinian news agency quoted Rajoub as saying that the elections will take place at three stages within six months. “We will have legislative elections, followed by presidential elections and then elections for the Palestine National Council wherever possible.”
Hamas’ spokesman in Gaza, Fawzi Barhoum, said the meeting in Istanbul confirmed the basis of a new initiative aimed at forging a policy course “based on unity and power-sharing.”
Najeeb Qadoumi, a member of the Palestine National Council, told Arab News: “The meeting reflects the feeling among Palestinians that the Palestinian cause is in being liquidated based on the American-Israeli vision and that only through unity and the legitimization of elections can we stand up to this conspiracy against the Palestinian cause.”
Gaza-based activist Wael Alloush told the Ramallah-based Ajyal radio station: “The last time elections were held was in 2006. It will be an important but new activity for many Palestinians.”
Ammar Dweek of the Independence Commission on Human Rights said that external pressure has forced Palestinians to unite. “The situation has matured for elections because everyone realizes they will be totally isolated without the legitimacy of elections,” he said.
Hazem Kawasmi, a member of the board of Al-Marsad (the Arab World Democracy and Electoral Monitor), told Arab News that he has suggested to President Abbas that elections should be based on two constituencies — national and Jerusalem. “The idea is that this would be a one-time activity that will highlight the issue of Jerusalem,” he clarified.
Kawasmi expects that Israel would be strongly opposed to that idea, but said, “We will have to fight it on the diplomatic and public relations fronts.”
Jamal Zakout, who was the assistant to former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, told Arab News that he is still skeptical that elections will take place.
“Everyone is waiting for the results of the US elections,” he said. “Then they will decide for sure whether or not to have elections here.”


UK govt: British women strip-searched in Qatar

Updated 33 min 58 sec ago

UK govt: British women strip-searched in Qatar

  • London describes incident as ‘unacceptable’
  • Strip-search took place in Doha airport

LONDON: British authorities have formally registered concerns with Qatar following reports that two women who are UK nationals were strip-searched in Doha.

The forced medical examinations were carried out in Doha airport after authorities discovered a newborn baby in a bin.

This, it is claimed, prompted them to conduct “urgently decided” intrusive examinations, described as “absolutely terrifying” by one of 13 Australian women on a flight to Sydney who were subjected to them.

The British women were part of a group that was forced to disembark flights before having their underwear removed for a female medical professional to carry out an examination assessing if they had recently given birth.

The complaint was registered by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which said in a statement: “We are providing ongoing support to two British women following an incident in Doha. We have formally expressed our concern with the Qatari authorities and Qatar Airways and are seeking assurances an unacceptable incident like this cannot happen again.”

Australian officials said passengers from 10 flights leaving Doha on Oct. 2 were subjected to the ordeal.

“The advice that has been provided indicates that the treatment of the women concerned was offensive, grossly inappropriate, and beyond circumstances in which the women could give free and informed consent,” said a spokeswoman for the office of Australia’s foreign minister.

Sources familiar with the incident have said the newborn is alive and in care, and the mother has not been identified.