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Hamas to hold internal elections


Hamas to hold internal elections

Picture: Patrick Baz, AFP

Hamas will hold internal party elections today ahead of the Palestinian Authority parliamentary elections in May.

Hamas, Palestine’s anti-Israeli Islamist movement, has opposed territorial negotiations with Israel led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s nationalist Fatah group. The Hamas election committee hopes to open voting in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem for the first time since 2006. It is highly questionable that the May election will even occur as they require cooperation between the longstanding rivals.

Hamas is expected to run on a heavily anti-Israeli platform that would demand full control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Additionally, Hamas would end talks with Israel and refuse to negotiate sovereignty over the Palestinian territories. A strong Hamas performance would shatter Abbas’s hopes of increased legitimacy and Western aid due to its terrorist designation among Western governments.

If the May election moves forward, expect Hamas to perform well. Polls show support for Hamas remains four points higher than support for Fatah, and the incumbent party is riven with internal strife. While Hamas’s public image suffers from its poor rule in Gaza, this counts for little in the face of Abbas’s long-standing and well-documented corruption.

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