Palestinians will not hold presidential and parliamentary elections in May because of disagreements between the two main political factions, a Palestinian elections official said this week.
The gridlocked Hamas-Fatah reconciliation has made it impossible for the Palestinian Central Elections Commission (CEC) to hold elections on May 4, the date originally set by the groups, said the Ramallah-based organisation's chief electoral officer, Hisham Kuhail.
"May 4 is out of the question," said Mr Kuhail, who oversees the CEC. In an interview with The National, he said the commission cannot stage the election primarily because Hamas will not allow it to make the necessary preparations in Gaza, such as updating the voting registry and installing voting centres.
The problem can be resolved only by "real reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah", he said.
Further, under Palestinian law, Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, must issue a decree instructing the CEC to begin preparing for the elections. This process takes 90 days.
"But to this moment, that has not happened," Mr Kuhail said.
The earliest feasible date to organise an election would be after June, he said.
A Hamas-Fatah agreement signed in Cairo last year was supposed to have led to an interim government that would govern both Gaza and the West Bank until elections took place.
Mr Abbas probably will not issue the order for the elections until Hamas and Fatah settle their disagreements over who will run the interim government, sources say.
Given how Gaza Hamas leader Haniyeh has been acting alike a head of state, undermining not only Abbas but even Hamas political leader Meshal, this is hardly surprising. Hamas will not willingly give up or share power in Gaza, and indeed will do everything they can to take over in Ramallah as well, hoping for an Egyptian-style revolution that would replace the current PA leadership with Islamists.
See also Elliot Abrams' commentary.