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Popular Resistance Committees decides not to participate in municipal elections

Aug. 25, 2016 9:35 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 7, 2016 9:56 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Popular Resistance Committees movement declared on Thursday that it would not be participating in Palestinian municipal elections set to take place place in October.

The movement, mainly based in the Gaza Strip, nonetheless called on Palestinians to take part in the democratic process to support those committed to lessening their everyday suffering and strengthening them against Israeli violations.

The Palestinian Authority-controlled cabinet in the West Bank announced in June its decision to hold elections on Oct. 8.

Earlier this month, the Hizb al-Tahrir movement also announced that it would boycott the elections, calling the process “worthless” so long as the Israeli occupation was ongoing.

On Wednesday, political institutions in the northern occupied West Bank city of Nablus decided to postpone municipal elections in the wake of violent confrontations between armed groups and Palestinian security forces which culminated in the brutal killing of one suspect while in police custody.

Meanwhile, Hamas stated in July that it would participate in the local electoral process, after the movement boycotted the last local elections in 2012 in response to alleged corruption and intimidation among Fatah officials.

Analysts have claimed that Hamas’ participation in local elections could signal the possibility of long-overdue general elections being held in the West Bank and Gaza.

United Nations Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Piper hailed on Wednesday the upcoming municipal elections, stating that “conducting the local elections in line with established international standards can contribute to advancing Palestinian reconciliation based on (Palestine Liberation Organization) principles.”

“However, the lack of party unity or any attempt to influence the outcome of the elections, including through intimidation, threats, violence or coercion during the election campaign, risks widening divisions and undermining the Palestinian national cause,” Piper added. “I urge all parties to refrain from actions that could undermine the integrity of the process.”

The last elections in the Gaza Strip were held in 2006, when Hamas’ victory erupted into a violent conflict between Hamas and Fatah as both groups attempted to take control of the small Palestinian territory.

Gaza was placed under an Israeli military siege in 2007 following Hamas' victory in the general elections and subsequent takeover of the government. The nearly decade-long siege has severely crippled the economy and further isolated the Gaza Strip from the rest of the Palestinian territory.
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