Ramallah, MINA – The two largest Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, agreed to hold Palestine first elections in nearly 15 years.
Voting is scheduled in the next six months, under the agreement of Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas political chief Ismail Haniya.
“We have agreed to first hold legislative elections, then the Palestinian Authority presidential elections, and finally the Palestinian Liberation Organization central council,” said Jibril Rajoub, a senior Fatah official on Thursday, Aljazeera reported.
Saleh al-Arouri, a top Hamas official said the agreement was reached after a meeting held in Istanbul, Turkey.
The dialogue is an important step towards reconciliation and partnership, and uniting the Palestinian position in the light of a consensus to reject all liquidation projects against the Palestinian cause,” Hussein al-Sheikh, a member of the Fatah Central Committee wrote on Twitter.
“We welcome the positive atmosphere that has overshadowed the national dialogue that has been taking place in Istanbul for two days between Fatah and Hamas which have agreed to hold general elections,” said PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh.
He added, that the PA is ready to provide all the conditions for successful elections as a gateway to “renewing democratic life, and to strengthen national unity in the face of the serious and existential dangers that threaten the Palestinian cause for the first time in its history”.
A meeting of the secretaries general of the factions will soon be held to announce the details of the agreement as well as discuss the working mechanism until the election is held.
The last Palestinian parliamentary elections were held in 2006 when Hamas unexpectedly won.
Following the 2006 vote, Hamas and Fatah formed a unity government but soon collapsed and bloody clashes broke out in the Gaza Strip between the two factions the following year.
Hamas has held the territory of Gaza, while Fatah runs the PA, which is based in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.
Various reconciliation efforts, including a prisoner swap agreement in 2012 and a short-lived unity government two years later, have failed to close the rift.
The talks in Turkey came after Abbas asked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to support Palestinian reconciliation efforts with the aim of leading to general elections.
They also come in an attempt to unify Palestinian ranks in light of the so-called US Middle East plans and the acceleration of normalization between two Arab states, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain with Israel. (T/Hju/RE1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)