On January 15, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas introduced that legislative and presidential elections will happen within the West Financial institution and Gaza later this 12 months.
The choice got here 15 years after Abbas was elected for what was meant to be a four-year time period.
After many related bulletins that didn’t come to fruition, and in mild of the PA’s rising authoritarianism, the sincerity of this transfer is uncertain. Not solely has upholding democratic rules by no means been a precedence for the PA, however each the PA and Abbas’s present approval rankings are abysmal. This begs the query: Why announce elections now?
Within the final 4 years, the Trump administration not solely lower the PA’s funding but in addition fully sidelined Abbas. Since Joe Biden’s victory within the November 3 presidential election, Palestinian officers have been desperately grappling to get into the brand new administration’s good books. The choice to lastly announce elections is clearly part of this effort.
However impressing the Biden administration is probably going not the one purpose behind this transfer. A number of home and worldwide actors have additionally been pressuring the PA to carry elections. The worldwide donor neighborhood, for instance, has lengthy been acutely conscious that persistently propping up an authority and president who’re over a decade previous their elected mandate shouldn’t be a superb look.
For now, the legislative elections are scheduled to happen on Could 22 and the presidential vote on July 31. There may be, nevertheless, nonetheless a chance that the PA will as soon as once more delay the election, placing the blame on both Hamas or Israel.
There may be already one large impediment in the way in which of the election: Jerusalem.
Prior to now, Abbas and different Palestinian officers said that they’d not maintain elections within the West Financial institution and Gaza except Palestinians in Jerusalem are additionally allowed to go to the polls.
It’s unlikely that any Israeli authorities would allow Palestinian elections in Jerusalem, as doing so would quantity to acknowledging a reputable Palestinian presence within the metropolis, and due to this fact problem the Israeli declare of sovereignty over all the metropolis.
Furthermore, the Israeli regime might even attempt to forestall Palestinian Jerusalemites from participating within the elections by threatening to revoke their residence permits in the event that they achieve this.
However even when elections do go forward as deliberate, they are going to doubtless be neither free nor truthful.
Public help for Fatah within the West Financial institution and Hamas in Gaza is waning. They haven’t any well-liked mandate and are sustaining their grip over these territories by way of authoritarianism and corruption.
Certainly, political opposition has lengthy been repressed in each the West Financial institution and Gaza. Authorities frequently arrest journalists and activists who query their actions or reveal data that make them seem oppressive, corrupt or inept. The Israeli regime has additionally performed a giant function on this political oppression by incarcerating hundreds of Palestinians for “political” crimes and outlawing most Palestinian political exercise below its unlawful army legislation. The outcome has been the cementing of a one-party system in each territories and depoliticisation of the Palestinian society.
It’s thus completely doubtless that the 2 events will come to an settlement to repair the elections in a approach that may permit them to take care of dominant positions within the territories they at present rule over. Holding elections, given the present establishment, would due to this fact be antithetical to democracy.
Moreover, elections are merely technical procedures and are on no account interchangeable with democracy. They frequently happen not solely in democracies but in addition in nations the place democratic traits are missing or fully absent.
Palestine, in the mean time, is within the latter class. Subsequently, elections would obtain little greater than propping up a establishment that doesn’t permit for democratic area and a system that doesn’t search to provide a democratic and consultant management.
In the meantime, similar to Hamas and Fatah, worldwide donors are additionally probably not considering seeing Palestinians democratically elect their leaders. They solely care about having a Palestinian management that won’t push again towards their agendas. This was demonstrated par excellence within the final Palestinian Legislative Council elections in 2006 when Hamas gained in a landslide. The worldwide neighborhood rejected the outcomes of that election and subsequently imposed sanctions on the PA and withheld help – merely as a result of Palestinians dared to elect a management that they deemed inappropriate.
Israel on its half has repeatedly demonstrated that it’ll crush all Palestinian expressions of democracy that problem its settler-colonial regime and can solely permit a subordinate Palestinian management.
The present greater echelons of the Palestinian political elite are additionally not considering a democratic course of that may problem their place and privilege. It’s thus clear that the just lately scheduled Palestinian elections are nothing however political theatrics to supply cowl for the truth that among the many primary actors there isn’t any curiosity in selling a consultant and accountable Palestinian management and a democratic Palestinian society.
The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.