Gaza’s Hamas government has given the green light to the Palestinian Central Election Commission (PCEC) to begin updating voter registration data in the Gaza Strip—an electoral requirement not undertaken since the 2006 parliamentary election, in which Hamas received a majority of votes in the PA controlled parts of Judea and Samaria as well as Gaza, according to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.
Last Sunday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told Turkey’s state-run news agency that efforts to achieve reconciliation between his Fatah party and Hamas have reached “a deadlock.”
Abbas told the Anadolu Agency that Fatah would not unify with Hamas without elections in the PA ruled area of Judea and Samaria and in Gaza.
In the reconciliation treaty they signed in Cairo in May of 2011, Fatah and Hamas agreed to hold elections, but Hamas is refusing to allow the Palestinian Central Elections Commission to update the voter registry in the Gaza Strip.
PCEC president Hanna Nasser described the long-overdue task of updating voter registration data as a first step in the right direction, paving the way to a long overdue election.
“The commission starts its latest operations with an office in each of Gaza’s five governorates,” Nasser said, adding that he expects data collection in both regions to take five weeks.
The new data will include as many as 250,000 eligible but not yet registered voters, according to Nasser.
Initially, the Palestinian Authority announced it would hold elections on Oct. 20, and gave Hamas two weeks to reverse its decision and allow preparations for a vote to take place in Gaza.
“The situation we are in is a deadlock,” Abbas said on Sunday.
Abbas said presidential elections should be held as soon as possible, adding that he would not run for reelection.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian news agency Ma’an has reported that preparations are underway for a meeting between Fatah and Hamas in Cairo.
Egypt is exerting efforts to hold a meeting between the two political movements and it is expected that Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal would attend, sources told Ma’an.
The meeting is set to take place in Cairo within a few days and the leaders will discuss political reconciliation, the terms of which have still yet to be fully implemented.
Gaza’s Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh met Egyptian President Muhammad Mursi last Thursday in an official visit that signaled a shift in Cairo’s attitude regarding Hamas after the election of a Muslim Brotherhood president.
Haniyeh invited Mursi and the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, Muhammad Badie, to visit the Gaza Strip, a statement said following the meeting.
The Gaza premier said Egypt would change its policy on the Rafah crossing and allow the border to remain open for 12 hours a day.
An Egyptian official confirmed the decision, but added that it would take time before the crossing was ready to handle the increased traffic.
Abbas and Mashaal met separately with the Egyptian president last week in Cairo, with reconciliation talks high on the agenda.
Hamas leader and de facto Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh’s Deputy Prime Minister Mohammed Awad said in May that he hopeed the voter registry update “will be the foundation for ending Palestinian division and that Palestinian citizens will really feel that the reconciliation has begun in light of the new government and the resolution of all outstanding issues.”
According to WRMEA, while Awad said he hoped the PCEC would operate throughout the Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem, he was uncertain as to whether Israel would allow it to succeed. He said it was particularly unlikely that ministers affiliated with Islamic Palestinian parties, i.e. the Muslim Brotherhood, would be allowed to travel between Judea and Samaria and Gaza. This is a real concern for many Palestinians, since Israel arrested and jailed most of the elected members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, along with government ministers.