Blinken surmises that Abbas delayed Palestinian elections over fears of Hamas gains

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speculates that fears of Hamas gains in the Palestinian parliamentary elections scheduled for last month played a role in Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s decision to delay the vote indefinitely.

Pressed on the matter during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, Blinken begins by recognizing the reason Abbas gave for cancelling the vote — Israel’s refusal to allow for the elections to take place in East Jerusalem.

Israel has purposefully maintained a policy of ambiguity on the matter. While it has avoided a public stance, Ramallah claims Israeli officials have passed along messages against allowing Palestinian elections to take place in Jerusalem.

Regardless, Blinken says, he would “certainly suspect that part of [Abbas’s] calculation is concern that Hamas would do well in elections.”

The remarks appeared to be the most detailed comments the Biden administration has given on the issue of Palestinian elections.

When US officials have been asked to comment on the matter before now, they have stated that the elections are an internal Palestinian issue and have declined to comment further.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, right, meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, May 25, 2021. (Majdi Mohammed/AP)

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