GAZA/RAMALLAH (Dispatches) – The Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic resistance movement Hamas has welcomed West Bank-based Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s decrees on holding the legislative and presidential elections in Palestine.
The movement said in a press statement that "Hamas welcomes the presidential decrees that set dates for holding the legislative, presidential elections in Palestine and for the parliament of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).”
"Hamas affirms its extreme keenness to make this entitlement a success in the interest of the Palestinian people, who have the absolute right to choose their leadership and representatives,” the statement said.
It added that Hamas had worked over the past months "to overcome all obstacles to reach this day.”
Abbas announced on Friday parliamentary and presidential elections, the first in 15 years, will take place later this year in an effort to heal longstanding internal divisions.
According to a decree issued by Abbas’s office, the Palestinian Authority (PA), in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, will hold legislative elections on May 22 and a presidential vote on July 31. Elections for the National Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which represents the Palestinian cause internationally, will be held on August 31.
Palestinians’ last parliamentary ballot in 2006 resulted in a win by Hamas, widening an internal political rift that led to the group’s seizure of the Gaza Strip in 2007 and contributed to a long delay in setting further elections.
Gaza has been under blockade by the Zionist regime since 2007.
"The President instructed the election committee and all state apparatuses of the state to launch a democratic election process in all cities of the homeland,” the decree said, referring to the occupied West Bank, Gaza and occupied East al-Quds.
The statement said Abbas expects polls "in all governorates of Palestine, including East al-Quds”, which was occupied by the Zionist regime following the 1967 war.
The Palestinian president’s Friday’s decree came almost a decade after both parties began calling for elections but have never been able to patch up their differences or agree on a process for holding the votes.
Earlier this month, Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas political bureau, wrote a letter to the Palestinian president, calling for ending division, building partnership, and accomplishing national unity, according to a statement issued by the Palestinian Authority, which is the governing body in the West Bank led by Abbas.