Conditions do not exist for Palestinian elections
For the violence by PA security force: Angry Palestinians demonstrate against PA talks with hated Shaul Mofaz
PCHR Calls for Reconciliation and an End to the Ongoing Fragmentation before the Organization of Palestinian Elections
PCHR, Media release
July 11, 2012
Yesterday, the Cabinet of the Palestinian Government, headed by Dr. Salam Fayad in Ramallah, published a press release stating that the Council of Ministers approved the decision to organize local elections in different Palestinian governorates on 20 October 2012. In the press release, the Council of Ministers instructed the Central Elections Committee to make the necessary arrangements in order to organize the elections on time. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) reiterates its rejection of the organization of any elections, whether presidential and PLC or local, in light of the ongoing political fragmentation. PCHR calls for the provision of conditions to ensurean environment appropriate for the organization of transparent and fair elections that express the will of Palestinian voters.
Palestinian local elections were organized for the majority of local councils at different stages between December 2004 and December 2005; thus the legal term of these councils expired between December 2008 and December 2009. Since then, it has not been possible to organize new elections due to the ongoing fragmentation of the PA since 2007. During the past few years, the 2 governments in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have appointed new local councils directly, including representatives whose term had expired or in councils where they were not elected.
This decision to organize local elections is the third of its type in less than 3 years. On 08 February 2010, the Cabinet of the Palestinian Government in Ramallah called for elections in 327 local councils in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on 17 July 2010.On 25 April 2010, the Cabinet cancelled its decision to organize local elections in the Gaza Strip,as the Central Elections Committee was unable to implement the elections in Gaza due to the political fragmentation. Later, on 10 June 2010, the Cabinet issued a decision to cancel the local elections in the West Bank.
The second decision was issued by the Cabinet on 08 February 2012 to organize local elections in 320 local councils in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on 09 July 2011.On 17 May 2011, the Cabinet issued a decision to postpone the organization of the local elections,as the Central Elections Committee was unable to organize the elections due to the ongoing fragmentation. In the same decision, the Cabinet scheduled 22 October 2011 for the organization of local elections in the West Bank. On 22 August2011, President Abbas issued a Presidential Decree postponing the organizations of the elections.The Decree stipulates that: “The organization of elections of local council which are scheduled to be organized on 22 October 2011 shall be postponed till appropriate conditions are available to organize these elections in all governorates of the country.”In the preamble of this Decree, it was noted that the decision to postpone the formation of the government was taken in hopes that it would contribute to putting an end to the ongoing Palestinian fragmentation, achieving national reconciliation and supporting national and Arab efforts to end the fragmentation, as well as providing an appropriate atmosphere for achieving these objectives.
In view of the above, PCHR stresses the following:
1. The pressing priority at this time is the achievement of Palestinian reconciliation and putting an end to the ongoing political fragmentation,which affects all elements of the Palestinian cause. PCHR reiterates that it is impossible to organize any elections, whether presidential and PLC or local, in the light of the ongoing fragmentation, due to the lack of conditions to ensure an environment appropriate for the organization of transparent and fair elections that express the will of Palestinian voters;
2. Its total support for the democratic transition process in the PA. Democracy requires, inter alia, the organization of transparent and fair elections that allow people to select those who will represent them, and who are subject to accountability;
3. Elections have never been an objective; however, they are part of a comprehensive democratic process. The organization of any general or local election requires the provision of conditions necessary to organize transparent and fair elections that reflect the will of voters. These conditions include, in particular, the enforcement of public freedoms, including the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the right to peaceful assembly, the right to form associations, the release of political detainees, the lifting of the ban on political activities and allowing the media to work freely; and
4. It is impossible to organize any elections without ensuring all necessary judicial guarantees or without the existence of a unified and independent judicial authority, which includes a court competent to consider disputes relating to elections. All competitors must acknowledge that this court is independent and neutral for fair elections.
 For more information about PCHR’s position on the decision to organize the local elections, please see PCHR’s position paper titled: “Position Paper: On the Call for Local Elections in Palestinian Authority Territories in July 2010,” published on 18 February 2012.
For more information about PCHR’s position on the Cabinet decision to cancel local elections, please see PCHR press release: “PCHR Welcomes Decision to Cancel Local Election Due to the Lack of Appropriate Conditions for Fair Elections,” published on 15 June 2010, reference no.: 47/2010.
For more information about PCHR’s position on the decision to organize the local elections in 2011, please see “Position Paper: Palestinian Elections in Light of the Ongoing Fragmentation,” published on 10 February 2011.
 For more information, please see: “PCHR Welcomes President’s Decision to Postpone Elections of Local Councils,” 24 August 2011, ref: 89/2011.
Hamas suspends Gaza voter registration
By Nidal al-Mughrabi, Reuters
July 02, 2012
GAZA – Hamas suspended voter registration in the Gaza Strip on Monday in a setback to Palestinian plans for parliamentary and presidential elections and to forging unity with President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement.
Hamas, the Islamist group that seized the enclave from Fatah forces in 2007, cited the continued arrest of its members in the West Bank by security forces of the Palestinian Authority, which is led by Abbas.
The Central Election Committee had urged Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to take part in voter registration, due to begin on Tuesday. Abbas was then expected to issue a decree setting a date for the long-delayed elections.
“Hamas decided to temporarily suspend the work of the commission until the obstacles are removed,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.
“We are still committed to reconciliation and to holding elections but aggressive security measures in the West Bank would lead to an election outcome favouring (Fatah),” he said.
Hamas members in the West Bank, Abu Zuhri said, could not register to vote or monitor the election committee’s activities because of the security crackdown.
Ahmed Assaf, a Fatah spokesman in the West Bank, accused Hamas of retreating from Egyptian-brokered unity deals.
“It means Hamas did not want an election to be held and did not want to move ahead toward reconciliation,” Assaf said.
Fatah also accuses Hamas of holding members of the group in its Gaza jails. Disputes over political detentions by both sides have plagued efforts at unity.
Hani Habib, a political analyst in Gaza, called Hamas’s move “a real setback. It bolsters doubts by the Palestinian public that neither side has good intentions to end the division.”
Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta in Ramallah
Hamas says Hebron hunger strike behind electoral halt
July 11, 2012
GAZA CITY — Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Wednesday that the reason his party suspended electoral preparation in the Gaza Strip, effectively calling a halt to reconciliation with their Fatah rivals, was as a direct response to political repression in the West Bank.
Addressing a rally against political arrests by students in Gaza City, Abu Zuhri said recent events in Hebron University were the last straw in a string of events persuading Hamas to call off election groundwork.
Around 10 students are holding a sit-in in the southern West Bank university, and several of them have been on hunger strike for a week, a Ma’an correspondent said. They are protesting the detention of Hamas members by the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority.
Abu Zuhri said Hamas insists elections be carried out in a fair environment, and the PA’s detentions led them to halt the work of the Central Election Commission in updating Gaza’s voter register last week, a day before the process was due to launch.
The commission was set to open registration centers across Gaza between July 3 and 14, the first such initiative to update the registers since the last local elections were held in January 2005.
Electoral registration was slated as the first step to implementing the long-stalled reconciliation deal between the factions signed in May 2011, ushering in promised elections to reunite Gaza and the West Bank.
Fatah officials accused Hamas of backing out of the deal.
Hamas has provided several reasons for stopping the electoral commission. As well as political arrests, Abu Zuhri said at the time that the movement was concerned about confusion surrounding appointment of oversight bodies for the registration process.
He also said parties had committed to start registration for the Palestinian National Council, the legislative body of the PLO, in tandem with elections in the Palestinian territory, but this had not taken place.
Hamas leader Mahmud Zahhar then accused the electoral commission of being dominated by Fatah members, a charge vehemently denied by the commission.
Abu Zuhri on Wednesday called on Egypt, who brokered the reconciliation deal, to press the PA to stop detaining Hamas members and ensure the implementation of the agreement.