After years of turmoil and uneasy power sharing, the region called Palestine may now see some relief. President MAHMOUD ABBAS issued a decree on Friday that Parliamentary & Presidential Elections will be held later this year in all parts of Palestine’s homeland. This includes Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem. In what is a historic first, the people of Palestine will finally have a voice in form of a vote. This will be the first ever polls since 2006. This means elections are happening here after more than a decade.
WHY PALESTINE NEEDS THIS ELECTION
This region has seen a lot of turmoil, conflict, bloodshed and Human Rights violations. This democratic election can act as a glimmer of hope in such times. There are other reasons as well: –
- The mainstream Palestinian party FATAH and the Islamic militant group HAMAS have been criticized in the past for failing in reconciliation. Both can now start afresh.
- In the last year, the deals Israel signed with 4 Arab nations, has brought them diplomatically closer. It’s high time Palestinian groups also keep differences aside and present a united front. This is important so that they don’t get more isolated in the region. This will also help them to take advantage of the ever-shifting alliances in the Middle East.
- These elections come conveniently at a time when the United States is also seeing a change in leadership. Incoming President JOE BIDEN has in the past, expressed his policy of restoring Palestinian aid. If successful, this election can be a new beginning in US-Palestine relations.
- We all know the level of division in Palestine. Fatah rules the West Bank, Hamas the Gaza Strip and Israel over East Jerusalem. These elections, if carried out successfully, will usher in a new era. The Era of a United Palestine.
WILL POLLS BE SUCCESSFUL??
Elections come at a time when internal divisions are at it’s highest. When polls took place in 2006, clashes ensued between FATAH and HAMAS (as we mentioned before), which continued for more than a year. This led to the latter taking over the Gaza Strip as a result, West Bank and Gaza are now held by FATAH and HAMAS respectively.
These and many such reasons are why some analysts claim free and fair elections won’t be successful here.
- USA, EU and most of the international community considers and has labeled the Hamas as a terrorist organization. This poses a big question. Can we expect Palestine being on the same page with the West??
- Despite the decree announcing elections, neither Fatah nor Hamas have made any public statements regarding how elections will be held in a divided Palestine. We have no clarity on whether or not, candidates will have the freedom to campaign in a rival party rules area.
- The mistrust and power tactics that delayed elections for more than a decade still persist. This means that in case of Election disputes, whether or not Hamas accepts the decision of the court (constituted by Fatah leader ABBAS) is still not clear. Also, will Fatah allow Hamas’s security forces to secure voting booths or not is also unclear. We very well know that Fatah claims these forces to be illegitimate.
- East Jerusalem is one of the polling provinces, however it’s controlled by Israel (annexed it in 1967 Middle East War). In the past too, Israel has barred Palestinians from voting there, which has prevented successful elections there. As of yet, they haven’t made a single statement on how this will be dealt with. We can only hope that the state takes appropriate measures.
WHAT TO EXPECT?
We don’t know whether the elections will be successful or not, because the odds are strong on both sides. The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research predicts a 38% vote share for Fatah in parliamentary elections, against 34% for Hamas. On the other hand, it predicts a Hamas victory in the presidential vote, with 50% preferring the Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and 43% Abbas. This means we are in for a tight race. If we go by poll numbers, Palestine might as well see some power sharing too.
Signs are also positive as both parties have agreed on the election date. The so called Terrorists HAMAS has also started a campaign with the motto “Change and Reform”. Fatah’s Abbas too, is not in 2 minds to carry out the polls. So, we know that polls will definitely happen. Let’s hope that a free and fair democratic process happens in Palestine, which gives way to a period of stability in the region.