For the first time in 15 years, Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas on Friday announced that there will be parliamentary and presidential elections later this year.
According to a decree issued by the president’s office, the Palestinian Authority (PA) will hold legislative elections on May 22, a presidential vote on July 31 and the National Council elections (PLO parliament) on August 31, 2021.
“The President instructed the election committee and all state apparatuses of the state to launch a democratic election process in all cities of the homeland,” the decree said, referring to the occupied West Bank, Gaza and occupied East Jerusalem.
The statement said Abbas expects polls “in all governorates of Palestine, including East Jerusalem”, which was occupied by Israel following the 1967 war.
Israel bans all PA activity in East Jerusalem, and there was no indication it would allow a Palestinian vote within Jerusalem, which it considers its “undivided capital”.
Hamas has welcomed the announcement, saying in a statement: “We have worked in past months to resolve all obstacles so that we can reach this day.”
In a statement, the European Union welcomed the development as participative, representative and accountable democratic institutions are key for Palestinian self-determination and state-building.
“The EU has in the past years consistently supported and funded the work of the Central Elections Commission in order to prepare for holding free, fair and inclusive elections for all Palestinians,” statement added.
“The EU stands ready to engage with relevant actors to support the electoral process. The EU also calls on Israeli authorities to facilitate the holding of elections across all the Palestinian territory,” it concluded.