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Hamas calls for Palestinian elections 10 years on

Hemmed in by Egypt and Israel, Gaza terror group says it seeks reconciliation with rival Fatah

GAZA CITY — Islamist movement Hamas on Tuesday marked the 10th anniversary of the legislative election it won in 2006 with a call for new parliamentary and presidential polls in the Palestinian territories.

At a news conference, senior Hamas figures in Gaza called for “the announcement of a precise date for presidential and legislative elections.”

First deputy speaker of parliament Ahmed Bahar said Hamas and rival Palestinian factions should work to achieve reconciliation “and to close the gaps opened by years of political division.”

Palestinian elections have not been held in a decade due to the bitter split between Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank-based Fatah faction led by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

Representatives from the rival factions are expected to meet, however, in the coming days in Doha in a fresh attempt to implement a 2014 reconciliation deal which provided for elections by the end of that year.

The elections never materialized, with the two sides blaming each other.

Bahar welcomed the talks due to take place in the Qatari capital.

File: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, left, and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh from Hamas, right, raise their linked arms as they move through the crowd at a special session of parliament in Gaza City, March 17, 2007. (AP/Hatem Moussa)
File: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, left, and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh from Hamas, right, raise their linked arms as they move through the crowd at a special session of parliament in Gaza City, March 17, 2007. (AP/Hatem Moussa)

The Palestinian parliament has not met since 2007, the year Hamas seized the Gaza Strip by force and drove out Fatah from the enclave buoyed by its 2006 election victory.

Hamas caused a shock by winning the majority of seats in the polls, which were seen by some as the most transparent to be held in the Palestinian territories.

But the international community refused to accept the results, demanding that Hamas renounces violence, recognizes Israel and respects agreements signed between Palestinian and Israeli leaders.

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