Hamas "temporarily" suspended voter registration in Gaza on Monday in a move that raises doubts about whether upcoming legislative and presidential elections will be held in Palestinian Authority enclaves.
The terror group, which rules the coastal enclave, only granting the PA electoral commission permission to begin registering voters a month ago – but now cites "obstacles" to continuing with the process.
The registration process is a key step towards resurrecting a long-stalled reconciliation agreement between Hamas and the Fatah faction, which rules PA enclaves in Judea and Samaria.
Ahead of the elections, the two movements were supposed to agree on a consensus government of independents to pave the way for a vote, but talks on the composition of the government have broken down on several occasions.
“Hamas and the government in Gaza have provided the Central Election Commission (CEC) with all the facilities required for it to carry out its role with ease,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.
“But there are many issues that represent obstacles,” he said. “Therefore Hamas has decided to temporarily suspend the registration process until an agreement between the parties involved to remove the obstacles.”
The statement lists a variety of alleged obstacles, including the arrest of Hamas members in Judea and Samaria by PA security forces, and a failure to carry out registration in PA enclaves and abroad at the same time.
Hamas also complained no agreement has been reached with Fatah on what it says are a “large number” of unregistered voters in the Judea, Samaria and Gaza who do not possess identity cards.
The terror group went on to criticize the selection of election commission officials, as well as the civil society bodies. The civil society bodies are supposed to provide oversight for the registration process.