Hamas Demands Presidential Decree on Elections Without Prior Israeli Consent
Hamas on Wednesday called on Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to issue a “presidential decree,” setting a date for new presidential and parliamentary elections without waiting for Israel’s approval to hold the vote in east Jerusalem.
Palestinians will force Israel to allow the elections to take place in east Jerusalem, said senior Hamas official Salah Bardaweel during a press conference in Gaza Strip.
“We will turn the issue of the elections and Jerusalem into a political and popular conflict with Israel,” Bardaweel said, urging Abbas to proceed with his plan to hold the vote without further delay.
Bardaweel said Israel has no right to “guardianship over our land and our holy sites.”
For this reason, he noted that Palestinians don’t need permission to carry out any activities in their capital.
The Hamas official said no Palestinian will agree to participate in the elections if east Jerusalem is excluded.
He also criticized Abbas for announcing that the PA was waiting for Israel’s consent to hold the elections in east Jerusalem. Abbas’s announcement, Bardaweel said, came as a “major shock to Palestinians.”
Abbas, who attended Christmas Eve celebrations in Bethlehem on Tuesday night, said Israel does not want the Palestinians to hold elections in east Jerusalem.
“Elections must take place for Jerusalem’s residents inside the city,” Abbas said.
“If we receive permission, we will issue a presidential decree for holding the elections, which are important for us to reestablish our democracy. We believe in democracy and we believe in the liberation of Palestine soon.”
In response to Hamas’ appeal, Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction warned that holding Palestinian elections without Jerusalem “means slipping into [a] Zionist-American shameful deal,” with reference to Donald Trump’s plan for Mideast peace, aka “Deal of the Century.”
Fatah spokesman Osama Qawassmeh said that Jerusalem’s issue was “not a ploy subject to partisan interpretation but a sacred national issue.”
The Palestinians, he added, won’t “submit to extortion and pressure from friends and enemies” in this regard.