Palestinians voted on Saturday to elect representatives to city councils in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, an unusual democratic exercise after a decade and a half of delays in Palestinian elections.
This was the second phase of municipal elections, following a first round of voting in December in 154 West Bank villages. The turnout was 52.8%, according to the Central Election Commission.
Saturday’s vote was held in 50 locations, with many elections unopposed or without candidates in some cases, due to the boycott of the Islamist movement Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.
The armed group, which also did not participate in the 2017 municipal elections, said it was willing to compete in these elections if the Palestinian Authority also organizes presidential and legislative elections.
In April 2021, President Mahmud Abbas, whose term expired in 2009, indefinitely postponed these two elections, saying that they were not guaranteed to be held in East Jerusalem, the Palestinian part of the city annexed by Israel.
In voting for Al-Bireh, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas again defended his decision to cancel the presidential and legislative elections scheduled for last year, claiming they should be held “in all Palestinian territories”.
Wasfi Ramhi, a voter in the same city, said he hoped these elections would lead to a national vote: “If they are democratic, fair and free, they will help us to hold legislative and presidential elections,” he told AFP.
More than 715,000 voters were called to the polls.
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