Hamas permits election committee to work in Gaza
GAZA CITY GAZA’S Hamas rulers on Monday gave the green light to the Palestinian Central Election Commission to begin updating voter lists throughout the coastal strip, a top CEC official said.
“Hamas has agreed to let the CEC start working throughout Gaza,” said CEC president Hanna Nasser at a news conference in Gaza City, in a key step to paving the way for elections.
“The commission has started its operations now with five offices in the five governorates,” he said after meeting Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya to discuss starting work to update Gaza’s electoral register for the first time since 2006.
“We hope to begin working immediately to prepare for the process of updating voter lists,” Nasser said, thanking Haniya for allowing the CEC to start its long-overdue work.
“We hope that within six weeks, the voter lists will be complete in Gaza as they are in Ramallah.” At a meeting in Cairo on May 20, senior Fatah and Hamas officials agreed that the CEC would start work in Gaza by the end of the month, and that both factions would at the same time begin consultations on forming an interim “government of independents.” Holding elections and putting together a caretaker cabinet are two of the main issues which have been holding up implementation of a reconciliation deal between the rival Hamas and Fatah factions which was inked on April 27, 2011.
Speaking at the same news conference, Haniya’s deputy Mohammed Awad said he hoped the commission’s work would prove to the people that the stalled unity deal was really starting to be implemented.
“I hope that this will be the foundation for ending the Palestinian division, and that Palestinian citizens will really feel that the reconciliation has begun in light of (plans to form) the new government and the resolution of all outstanding issues,” he said.
He also expressed hope that the CEC’s work “would take place everywhere, including in Jerusalem,” referring to the annexed eastern sector of the city where Palestinians hope to one day have the capital of their future state.
Israeli authorities controlling the movement of goods and people into Gaza stopped two CEC members in Nasser’s delegation from crossing into the territory.
In response to a written request for information, the relevant department of Israel’s defence ministry said that one was prevented under rules barring Israeli citizens and holders of Israeli IDs from entering the strip.