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Palestinian elections look increasingly feasible

The Palestinian president’s call for general elections appears to have gained traction in Palestine, but many obstacles remain.
Chairman of the Palestinian Central Election Committee Hana Naser waves after his arrival in Gaza City October 28, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem - RC1B59B02880

When Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the UN General Assembly Sept. 29 that he “will call for general elections in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem" and "hold those who object to the elections accountable to God, the international community and history,” few expected that elusive election to take place. There are still many obstacles, but it appears that Abbas had some justification to make this bold call.

The traditional thinking has always been focused on the need for national reconciliation as a prerequisite to elections. But according to a senior adviser to the president, Nabil Shaath, the elections themselves will help usher in reconciliation by means of creating an elected national unity government. “The idea combines democratic and pluralistic principles. It will not be the winner takes all but a representative government based on election results. Once a unity government is established with all parties in it, we can move to the next step of presidential elections,” Shaath told Arab News Sept. 29.

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