‘We have no intentions or desire to delay these elections,’ Abbas told reporters at his Ramallah headquarters, dismissing reports over a planned delay of Palestinian legislative elections slated for July 17.
Delaying the legislative elections contradicts agreements Abbas made with opposition groups. Reports on a possible election delay has angered Hamas leaders, who warned that the Islamic movement would rethink its commitment to the informal cease-fire if the PA retreats commitments on holding elections on agreed upon dates.
Information Minister Nabil Sha’ath left the door open for possible delays due to difficulties that are expected to rise during the implementation of the disengagement plan.
The implementation of the disengagement is expected to start in late July and continue for six weeks.
‘The question really has to do with the Israeli pullout of Gaza during that time, and our fear that the Israelis might make it difficult for people to conduct real election campaigns and have real freedom of movement,’ Sha’ath said.
‘This is really the only consideration, and it will be discussed with Hamas and with everybody.’ He added.
Concerns over a possible election delay were triggered as the Palestinian Legislative council postponed a Sunday vote on the election bill.
The move was followed by several announcements by Fatah legislators that it would be impossible to run elections on the scheduled date ‘because of the tight timetable.’
Hamas announced Saturday that failure to hold the elections endangers the period of calm with Israel.
‘Now there are indications that the Palestinian Authority has intentions to delay the elections,Ã¢â‚¬Â¦In the event the situation continues as is…the Hamas movement will be pushed to reevaluate its position on the truce that is on the verge of collapse.’ Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri said.
Fatah young guards, who enjoy a considerable strength inside the Palestinian legislative council, but are pushed away from dicison making centers within the PA, has interest in postponing legislative elections.
They would want elections to take place after Fatah’s general convention, slated for August 4, hoping to increase their influence in the movement’s hierarchy prior to legislative elections.
On May 5, elections will take place for 68 local authorities in the Palestinian territories, constituting the third round of local elections launched in December 2004.
The results of the first two rounds of local elections increased concerns among Fatah leaders of a solid defeat on the hands of Hamas.
Several Fatah leaders believe that the movement needs more time to unify its rows, reform its structure, and raise its declining popularity among Palestinian electorates.