The Palestinian high court has postponed local elections set for 8 October in Gaza and the West Bank. The court ruling in Ramallah – which is currently governed by Fatah – on Thursday (8 September), came after a Hamas-run court in Gaza ruled to remove the electoral list of candidates put forward by Fatah, leaving it with no candidates in Gaza.
According to reports, the court ruled: "The administrative decision [i.e., the elections] must deal with the homeland as one unit, and with the faltering measures in Jerusalem and the procedural problems in Gaza, the decision was taken to postpone." The high court added that it will meet again on 21 September to confirm the judgement.
A legal analyst from the Palestinian Authority told Haaretz: "It's clear that the Palestinian split and the deep rift between Fatah and Hamas is the main cause of the harm to the election process. From the start it would have been difficult to hold the election given this situation. Anyone who thought the local elections would help bring about reconciliation was evidently mistaken."
In 2012, Hamas which runs the Gaza strip, boycotted the municipal elections but agreed to participate this year. The elections would be the first to take place in Palestinian territories since Hamas won the parliamentary elections in 2006.
The run-up to the elections have seen bitter disputes between political rivals of Fatah and Hamas, with Fatah on Wednesday alleging that Hamas were attempting to sabotage the polls.
As the elections were announced, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas came under heavy pressure, with opinion polls suggesting that most Palestinians would like for him to step down. Since 2005, no presidential elections were held in Palestinian territories.