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Hamas rejects delaying Palestinian elections

The Islamic resistance movement, Hamas, has rejected the delaying of the Palestinian elections, a senior group leader said on Tuesday.

“Postponing the polls – if happened – will be a serious decision,” Jamal al-Tawil told Anadolu Agency.

“Such a decision will be rejected as it will harm the high interests of the Palestinian people,” he said.

The Palestinian Authority is planning to call off the first elections in 15 years, citing Israel’s refusal to allow voting in the occupied city of Jerusalem.

An Egyptian diplomat and an intelligence official told Israel Hayom that they had been briefed on the decision, which will be announced on Thursday at a meeting of Palestinian factions.

The intelligence official said Hamas wants the elections to go ahead, but that no faction wants to proceed without guarantees from the international community that voting will be held in East Jerusalem.

The official said the factions are discussing the formation of a unity government instead that would include Hamas.

Israeli Army Radio also reported that the PA had informed representatives of the international community, Jordan, and Egypt about the decision. It is believed that the Palestinian leadership will convene in Ramallah on Thursday.

According to PA officials, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have been invited to attend the meeting where Abbas is set to make the cancellation announcement.

However, Al-Quds newspaper reported sources as saying that the PA had decided to cancel the elections “under heavy American and Arab pressure.”

Washington and regional countries apparently “believe that the results of the elections will not favour Fatah.”

The same sources added that the US had informed the PA that it would introduce several measures prior to any elections, including the resumption to aid to UNRWA, rehabilitating the Palestinian healthcare system, reopening the US Consulate in occupied Jerusalem, and reopening the PLO’s office in Washington.

“The US administration believes that these measures will help the moderate Palestinians get better results in the elections,” it was claimed.

Israeli sources also reported that Abbas had commissioned a senior member of the Fatah Central Committee, Hussein Al-Sheikh, to persuade Qatar to ask for Hamas’s agreement on the election cancellation under the pretext of “inappropriate” conditions in the region.

President Mahmud Abbas said that legislative, presidential and National Council elections would be held in the coming months, as part of a warming of ties between Fatah and Hamas.

The elections are supposed to be held under decree issued by President Mahmoud Abbas in three stages: the legislative on May 22, the presidential elections on July 31, and the elections for the National Council on August 31.

The last Palestinian elections for the Legislative Council were held in 2006, and Hamas won the majority, while presidential elections were held in 2005, and President Abbas won.

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