Palestinians Registering for Upcoming Elections

GAZA (Reuters) -
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas hands the election decree to Chairman of the Palestinian Central Election Committee Hana Naser in Ramallah. (Palestinian President Office/Handout via REUTERS)

Palestinians opened election registration offices in Gaza and Yehuda and Shomron on Wednesday, one day after rival factions agreed steps to ensure that the first elections in 15 years go ahead.

The two dominant factions – Fatah and Hamas – convened in Cairo this week with 12 other groups for Egyptian-brokered talks on how to prepare for parliamentary elections on May 22 and a presidential vote on July 31. There are still many obstacles, amid widespread skepticism about the feasibility of holding elections in three different areas: the parts of Yehuda and Shomron where the Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule, Hamas-controlled Gaza, and East Yerushalayim, which is under Israeli control.

But speaking in Cairo on Wednesday, Jibril Rajoub, the head of Fatah’s delegation to the talks, insisted that the elections would go ahead.

There are 2.8 million eligible voters in the Palestinian areas, and 85% of them have so far been registered. The voting age is 18. Israel allowed Palestinian elections in East Yerushalayim last time.