Palestinian Minister of Local Government, Mohammad Al Barghouthi, stated on Saturday that his latest meeting with Hanna Nasser, head of the Central Elections Committee, is a primary meeting to set the date for the fifth stage of the local municipal elections.Barghouthi added that this meeting was not meant to set the final date of these elections, but it was more of a primary meeting to set the criterions that would enable the remaining 1.200.000 residents to practice their voting rights.

He said that some legal differences remained unsolved, such as the date and some legal issues, and added that when everything is finalized, the elections plan which includes the final date will be presented to the ministers’ council for approval, since the Ministers Council is the only side which is authorized to set the date for the local elections.

 “We are talking here about months, not years”, Barghouthi added, “the Ministers’ council will set the date, it will be before the end of this year”.

He also said that the elections need political stability, especially in Hebron which is still under occupation, and Gaza which is suffering daily Israeli attacks and shelling.

The fifth stage of the elections includes more than 62 local councils, including 10 major municipalities such as Gaza, Hebron, Tulkarem, Khan Younis, the Central Gaza Strip and the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

Moreover, Barghouthi said that the Central Elections Committee estimates that the fifth level of elections will cost 1.700.000 US Dollars, and added that his ministry insists on holding these elections to enable the people to elect their representatives in a democratic way.

In 2004, four levels of local elections took place; Hamas movement achieved an overwhelming victory in these elections, and financial aid to these councils was blocked due to Hamas’ control over them.