Earlier this week, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz made a rare move of approving hundreds of Palestinian building permits as he concurrently approved 800 new Israeli settler construction projects in the West Bank.
On Friday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that new elections would be held later this year. They would be the first Palestinian elections since 2006, when Hamas, a group regarded as a terrorist organization by israel and many Western countries, won the vote in Gaza and established control over the exclave.
Mukhaymar Abu Saada, a political science professor at Gaza’s Al-Azhar University, told the Times, “The decree shows that we have entered a new level of seriousness when it comes to the willingness to hold elections.”
There remains a great deal to be sorted about the election processes – a subject that has torpedoed more than one attempt to hold elections in the past – but, according to Abbas’ plan, the first round of voting would take place on May 22, in which Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza would vote for members of a Palestinian Legislative Council. A second round would take place on July 7, for Palestinian Authority president, and a third round for the Palestinian National Council on August 31.
Some items to be sorted include how security would be provided at polling places, an agreement not to make political arrests, and the establishment of an independent electoral council amenable to all parties.