Islamic Jihad to boycott Palestinian local elections

Islamic Jihad to boycott Palestinian local elections
Militant group Islamic Jihad has announced its intention to boycott the upcoming local Palestinian elections, calling on Hamas to reconcile with its rival Fatah instead.
2 min read
08 August, 2016
The Palestinian local elections are scheduled for 8 October [Anadolu]

Islamic Jihad announced on Monday that it would boycott local Palestinian elections scheduled for 8 October, calling instead for national unity.

"We will not participate in the municipal and local elections," the militant group said in a statement.

The movement, which is widely seen as an ally of the Islamist movement Hamas which runs the Gaza Strip, said the elections were not an "appropriate way out of the Palestinian national impasse".

Instead, the group called on Hamas to reconcile with its rival Fatah that leads the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority headed by president Mahmud Abbas.

Hamas announced last month that it would take part in the elections after boycotting the last vote four years ago.

Hamas said in a statement that it considered local elections to be "necessary and important", without specifying where it would field candidates.

The movement boycotted the last round of elections held in 2012 and Gazans have been unable to vote since the Islamists took power in the territory in 2007.

"Hamas will work for the success of these elections and will facilitate them in the interest of the people and the (Palestinian) cause," the statement said.

Hamas and Fatah agreed on a unity deal in April 2014 that was supposed to lead to a technocratic government taking over administration of both Gaza and the West Bank.

However, Hamas never accepted relinquishing its authority in Gaza, and the two sides remain at loggerheads.