Palestinian divide shows as poll is delayed


The controversial Palestinian local elections which were due to take place this week have now been postponed by four months and are scheduled to occur only in the West Bank.

A decision to that effect by the Palestinian Supreme Court on Monday underlined the inability of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to repair their relations and hold elections jointly in the West Bank and Gaza.

The elections were initially postponed last month after Palestinian lawyers petitioned the court following the decision by local Hamas-dominated courts in Gaza to disqualify lists identified with Fatah to run there. This, in addition to the fact that Israel has forbidden polling to take place in east Jerusalem, served as a basis for postponing the elections that many in the Palestinian Authority feel would be an opportunity for Hamas to re-establish its presence in the West Bank.

It is unclear at this point whether Hamas, which criticised the decision, will continue to take part in the elections and whether the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority will allow its representatives to compete in the West Bank. The dispute comes at the same time as Hamas and other Palestinian groups have been criticising Palestinian President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas for participating last week in Shimon Peres's funeral.

Although none of the Israeli leaders who spoke at the funeral acknowledged Mr Abbas's presence, President Barack Obama said in his eulogy it was "a gesture and a reminder of the unfinished business of peace".

A senior IDF general said "Abu Mazen [Abbas] did a very brave thing in coming today".

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