Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas meeting in Cairo announce they have agreed on the “mechanisms” for forthcoming elections, after a rapprochement between the two movements.
A draft of the document is being circulated in Palestinian media.
Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya says that all sides have agreed on procedures for establishing an independent election court and securing free and fair elections. Al-Hayya adds that the Palestinian factions will return to Cairo in March for further discussions.
The draft joint declaration commits all sides to the immediate release of political prisoners and respecting the freedom to campaign. The declaration also calls for the appointment of an election court with members from Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, one of the talks’ most contentious facets.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas issued a decree in mid-January ordering three successive rounds of Palestinian national elections. The first round — for the currently defunct Palestinian legislature — is set to be held on May 22. Observers are skeptical that elections will indeed happen, as several election promises have fallen by the wayside before. But Fatah officials respond that this is the first time Abbas has issued a formal election decree in more than a decade.