PA high court upholds suspension of elections

Palestinian Authority's high court orders the suspension of local elections in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, scheduled for October 8.

Ben Ariel ,

Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

The Palestinian Authority's (PA) high court in Ramallah on Wednesday ordered the suspension of local elections in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, scheduled for October 8.

Wednesday's decision did not cancel the elections outright, but deferred a final decision until October 3, Haaretz reported.

According to the Palestinian Central Elections Committee, there is now no chance of holding the elections as scheduled.

The court first froze the elections some two weeks ago, following a petition by several PA lawyers and the prosecution in Judea and Samaria in response to the invalidation of Fatah lists in Gaza by Hamas courts.

Also mentioned in the petition was the inability to hold the vote in eastern Jerusalem.

The petitioners claimed that the invalidation off Fatah lists by Gaza courts meant that there were two legal systems in the Palestinian Authority’s jurisdiction – the PA's and Hamas’ – which was unacceptable, according to Haaretz.

The petitioners also demanded that the election committee insist on including eastern Jerusalem in the elections, even if Israel objects. Not doing so, they claimed, was a fundamental infringement of the rights of Palestinian Arab residents of eastern Jerusalem.

According to reports in PA-based media, Wednesday's decision followed a request by PA officials to complete preparations for the elections. But the election committee said it was impossible to complete the election preparations by October 8.

Hamas and Fatah have exchanged accusations, each blaming the other for the suspension of the elections which, according to polls, will be won by Hamas.

Hamas said the PA suspended the elections deliberately, for fear of losing the elections in Judea and Samaria. The PA, for its part, claimed Hamas had struck off Fatah lists for fear of losing in Gaza.

The back and forth is part of the ongoing feud between Hamas and rival Fatah, which have been at odds since 2007 when Hamas took over Gaza from Fatah in a bloody coup.

A unity government between Hamas and Fatah collapsed last June when Fatah leader and PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas decided to dissolve it amid a deepening rift between the sides.

Abbas has said he was interested in holding the elections, which he says are vital for the Palestinian people.

At the same time, there appears to be a genuine fear that Hamas will indeed defeat Fatah. Recent reports said officials close to Abbas have reportedly warned him that Hamas will win the elections by a landslide and urged him to cancel them.