Ramallah court calls for Palestine polls in W.Bank only

– Hamas describes court decision to exclude Gaza Strip from elections as ‘politicized’ and ‘absurd’

– Ramallah’s High Court of Justice on Monday issued a decision to hold Palestinian municipal polls in the Israeli-occupied West Bank only and not the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, a local official in Gaza City told Anadolu Agency.

According to the official, who spoke anonymously due to restrictions on speaking to media, the court did not provide a date for the elections.

“Due to the impossibility of holding elections in the Gaza Strip as a result of the current legal status quo there, the court has decided to implement the [Ramallah-based] Palestinian cabinet’s decision to conduct local polls in all areas of Palestine except the Gaza Strip,” the court asserted in its verdict.

Islamic resistance movement Hamas, for its part, which has governed the strip since 2007, blasted the decision as “absurd” and “politicized”.

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem told Anadolu Agency that the court ruling was based on “political considerations far removed from Palestinian law”.

Qassem went on to accuse the Fatah movement and the Fatah-led Palestinian government in Ramallah of “pressuring” the court to adopt the decision.

He added: “This decision will only serve to aggravate internal Palestinian divisions [between Gaza-based Hamas and West Bank-based Fatah].”

Last month, the same court suspended October polls that would have seen Hamas and Fatah — Palestine’s two main political movements — directly compete for the first time in a decade.

The court ostensibly postponed the vote in order to examine complaints that the planned election would not cover Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem, along with allegations that courts in the Gaza Strip “lacked legitimacy”.

In the past, the Israeli authorities have consistently obstructed Palestinian polls from being held in East Jerusalem, which the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority views as the Palestinian capital.