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Palestinian president vows no elections without Jerusalem's participation

Mahmoud Abbas' presidency expired in 2009 [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 January, 2019

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Weeks after calling elections, Mahmoud Abbas vowed they would not take place without Jerusalem's participation.

The Palestinian president said in a conference in Cairo that there will be no elections taking place in Palestine if they are barred from taking place in occupied East Jerusalem.

Mahmoud Abbas told reporters in Egypt on Friday that the fate of Jerusalem after the US recognition of the contested city as the capital of Israel is the one factor that will decipher the future of Palestinian politics.

While the court has ruled to hold Palestinian elections within six months, Abbas, whose presidency expired in 2009, has urged that if they will go on without Jerusalem, vowing he would now allow them to take place.

Last month Abbas announced his intention to dissolve the Palestinian Legislative Council after a court decision that ordered the move and said elections to be held within six months.

Hamas denounced Abbas' plan, calling it a move to "serve his partisan interests".

The ruling was made by the Palestinian Constitutional Court in Ramallah and Hamas said in a statement it rejected the decision by a court created by Abbas "to legitimise his arbitrary decisions".

"Abbas should have extended his hands to (Hamas leader Ismail) Haniyeh's invitation to hold a joint meeting, thereby ending the Palestinian division," the statement said.

Abbas also threatened the besieged Gaza Strip with yet more sanctions should Hamas does not succumb to his demands for reconciliation, perpetuating Israel’s crippling blockade which has left the enclave uninhabitable.

“I am not ready to spend $96 million every month, which was before $110, (on Gaza)”, he said according to Palestinian Authority news agency WAFA.

Increased Hamas popularity

Despite Hamas’ condemnation, a recent public opinion poll has shown that Abbas would lose to Haniyeh if presidential elections were held today.

The poll, conducted by prominent Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki showed that Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh would win with 49 percent to Abbas' 42 percent.

Shikaki links the results to what's perceived as a Hamas win in its latest confrontation with Israel and dissatisfaction with Abbas' government, particularly over a new social security law.

The poll interviewed 1,200 people in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip and had a 3 percent margin of error.

A majority of Palestinians want Abbas to resign while over half of the Palestinian public fear publicly criticising the Palestinian Authority, an earlier poll found.

The survey was carried out across the West Bank and Gaza Strip from by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR).

Sixty-seven percent of Palestinians demand Abbas' resignation, according to the poll, with the figure standing at 80 percent in the Gaza Strip.

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