Date: 21 Sep 2021
ICSPR: Holding local elections in this manner deepens the internal division
The Palestinian Council of Ministers, in its 123rd session, set Saturday, December 11, 2021, as the date for holding the first phase of the elections for the 388 village councils and municipalities classified as “C,” in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, provided that the second phase of the elections will take place on a date to be determined by the Council at a later time.
The decision to hold local elections in two phases comes without setting a date for the second phase, and without examining the possibility of holding them in the Gaza Strip, especially in light of the existence of the same contentious issues, which is considered a clear official announcement of the failure of the chances of holding elections at the level of the Palestinian territories, and bringing the controversy and disagreement over the municipal elections to the forefront of local events on the political and human rights levels.
The International Commission to Support Palestinians’ Rights (ICSPR) reaffirms its support for the principle of periodic elections, and strongly supports the national need to renew the constitutional and legal legitimacy of national institutions and bodies, including municipal and local councils, on the basis of holding them in conditions that allow their conduct, and fears that the current decision will be a repetition to the previous scenario in which citizens in the Gaza Strip were denied their right to elect their representatives in municipal councils and local bodies, and considers that completing the general election process must be a national priority, in order to overcome any internal obstacles, and to face any pressure or intervention by the occupation authorities that obstruct the holding of local elections in all their stages, or try to influence their results, provided that the local elections include the municipality of the city of Jerusalem, or agree on the appropriate plan if this is not possible due to the occupation policy, and complete the national consultation to reconsider The Central Elections Committee mandate and role. Therefore:
- ICSPR affirms its firm position on the necessity of holding comprehensive and simultaneous presidential and legislative elections, the National Council, local bodies, trade unions and student councils within the framework of law, regulations and national consensus, in order to ensure the provision of an appropriate atmosphere, and in a manner that secures holding free and fair elections that reflect the will of the voters, and unifying the judiciary in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, or at least agreeing to form the Elections Court of impartial judges in a way that guarantees its independence.
- ICSPR considers that the conduct of local elections in this non-consensual format is a step towards strengthening the division, deepening the crisis of the Palestinian political system, and casting doubts about the motives for holding them and leaving the doors to the possibility of disrupting or postponing them.
- ICSPR calls on the Palestinian Council of Ministers to wait in implementing the decision to hold local elections in the current imperfect format, and to give an additional deadline to remove obstacles to the holding of local elections through a national and societal dialogue that ensures an agreement between the various parties that defines the principles, pillars and guarantees for the conduct of local elections simultaneously at all sites.