Palestine court ‘has no jurisdiction to suspend elections’

Court will hold a special session on Wednesday to decide fate of Palestinian municipal elections

Gulf News

Ramallah: The Palestinian Higher Court of Justice has no jurisdiction to suspend holding the Palestinian local elections in the West Bank and Gaza, argued a former Palestinian official and expert in constitutional law.

According to Ahmad Al Khaldi, the former Palestinian Justice Minister, the Palestinian Higher Court of Justice has no jurisdiction to cancel, freeze, indefinitely postpone or suspend the Palestinian municipal elections in the West Bank and Gaza slated for October 8.

On June 21, the Palestinian consensus government called for municipal elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A Palestinian lawyer, Nael Al Houh appealed to the Palestinian Higher Court of Justice to cancel the local elections citing concerns that Jerusalem was left out of the electoral process and Fatah lists of candidates were disqualified by Hamas courts in Gaza.

Al Houh also argued that Hamas’s security and administrative control of the Gaza Strip was illegitimate. The Palestinian Higher Court of Justice decided on September 8 to suspend the elections but the court will hold a special session on Wednesday to decide the fate of the Palestinian municipal elections.

“The Palestinian Higher Court of Justice faces an important decision to make as the issue of the local elections was a sovereign one clearly defined by the Palestinian Basic Law, and over which the court has no jurisdiction at all. Holding the local elections is not an administrative issue that can be reviewed and decided by the court,” Al Khaldi told Gulf News. “Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, his Fatah party, Hamas and the other Palestinian factions have agreed that the municipal elections in Gaza Strip can take place under Hamas’s security and administrative control and the Hamas run courts will decide about the lists of candidates.” He stressed that Jerusalem was not part of the 2012 local elections and was left out of the electoral process, but still the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) regarded those elections as successful. Hamas refused to take part at the 2012 local elections.

“Now I am in fact more pessimistic than ever about the prospects for holding the Palestinian local elections, in a way that will surely deepen and perpetuate rift between the West Bank and Gaza Strip,” he said. “The Palestinian political parties have switched the local elections to a pure political issue, on which factionalism has the upper hand, and it will be decided as par with the terms and goals the Palestinian parties pursue.”

“Holding the Palestinian local elections on time is of fundamental importance. This will be the first local elections in the Palestinian territories since 2007 when Hamas took over the Gaza Strip,” said Dr Mustafa Al Barghouti, the Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative.

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