Hamas allows election commission to enter Gaza


The head of Gaza's Hamas government, Ismail Haniya (C-R), meets with members of the Central Elections Commission in Gaza City on May 28, 2012 as CEC officials prepare to begin work on updating the electoral register in the Gaza Strip, a key step to pave the way for elections.



Election officials from the West Bank were allowed into the Gaza Strip on Monday to update records, moving the territory closer to elections, according to the Associated Press.

A delegation from Fatah crossed into Hamas-controlled Gaza to prepare for elections by updating voter records, according to official Jamil al-Khaldi, said the AP.

The Palestinian rival factions, Fatah and Hamas, hope to hold elections in the next six months, healing a rift that has existed for the past five years, since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

The Palestinian Central Election Commission's president, Hanna Nasser, said "Hamas has agreed to let the CEC start working throughout Gaza," according to Agence France Presse.

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Nasser said, "We hope that within six weeks, the voter lists will be complete in Gaza as they are in Ramallah." It will be the first update to Gaza's electoral register since 2006.

According to Reuters, Hamas runs the Gaza Strip with no regard to the policies set by President Mahmoud Abbas in West Bank, and does not recognize Israel's right to exist, whereas Fatah endorses working toward a two-state solution with Israel.

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Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya's deputy said, "I hope that this will be the foundation for ending the Palestinian division, and that Palestinian citizens will really feel that the reconciliation has begun in light of (plans to form) the new government and the resolution of all outstanding issues," according to AFP.

The Los Angeles Times noted that the Palestinian Authority and Hamas signed an agreement last year that was never fully implemented. Abbas is expected to begin talks with Hamas on forming a new government headed by Abbas, which will likely be announced in 10 days when he meets with Hamas' chief Khaled Meshaal in Cairo.