Palestinian polls conducive to Jordan’s peace push — pundits

Palestinian youths wave a national flag during a Hamas protest in the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip on April 30, 2021, following the postponement of the upcoming Palestinian election
Palestinian youths wave a national flag during a Hamas protest in the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip on April 30, 2021, following the postponement of the upcoming Palestinian elections, which were supposed to take place this month. (Photo: AFP)
AMMAN — The much anticipated Palestinian elections could present an opportunity to unify the Palestinian front and revitalize negotiations towards a two-state solution, something that Jordan vocally and deeply supports, pundits agreed. اضافة اعلان

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced on Friday the postponement of the first elections to be held since 2006. These elections were anticipated by the international community. 

In a televised speech, Abbas said: “We have decided to postpone the election until the participation of our people in Jerusalem is guaranteed. ... This isn’t a technical issue, but rather a fundamentally political one,” Abbas said in a speech on Palestinian TV. 

If the election were a success, this should come as good news for Jordan, according to an expert. 

“The interests of the Jordanian state is in the building and consolidation of the Palestinian institutions. For Jordan,
any decision or effort to build Palestinian institutions and strengthen the decision-making process in Palestine feeds directly into the possibility of establishing a Palestinian state.” Mohammad Momani, former Minister of Information told Jordan News

“We think that it would have been better to hold the elections, and to renew the Palestinian political process, sending a message to the world of the viability of the Palestinian people to act democratically,” Momani added. 

Prior to this adjournment, Jordan had shown keenness to support holding elections. Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi delivered a letter from His Majesty to Abbas, informing the latter of Jordan’s support of the electoral process in Palestine. 

MP Ahmad Sarahneh, member of the Palestine Committee in Jordan’s Lower House said: “We [lawmakers] formed a committee and we were planning on going as observers. Jordan’s support of the elections is unquestionable, and it is spearheaded by His Majesty.” 

Regardless of the rationale behind postponing the elections, observers warn against the continuation of the “political stagnation” currently dominating the internal Palestinian dynamic. 

“Jordan’s higher national interest lies in the two-state solution, and we know His Majesty’s hard-pressed efforts during the Trump administration’s campaign to undermine the Palestinian cause. To us [Jordan], establishing a Palestinian state reflects positively and directly on Jordan, halting these elections will greatly affect Jordan and its interests,” said Musa Shteiwi, a professor of sociology at Jordan University. 

“The Palestinian Authority is suffering from stagnation both internally and in regards to the relationship with Israel and other nations. ... The postponement of the elections could deepen the internal rift and could result in a raging reaction from Palestinians, who were looking forward to these elections,” said Shteiwi.

On the other hand, Khaled Sukkar, a Palestinian journalist, downplayed the repercussions of delaying the elections.

“Today, Israel is blocking elections in Jerusalem. If we carried on with the elections, this would mean giving up our rights in Jerusalem. That is why the rational voices come in support of this decision. In 2006, elections were delayed for the same reason and there was an international intervention, and then they took place two or three months later,” said Sukkar.

“President Mahmoud Abbas received messages of support from a group of European countries, who told him that they will continue their efforts to hold elections and that the president must re-issue a presidential decree ensuring holding the elections,” the journalist said. 

Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ Political Bureau, has said in remarks to the media that his group “has shown great flexibility and the highest levels of national responsibility to achieve unity and reconciliation. … Hamas has been hoping that the electoral process would take its due course; however, it didn’t, and on no grounds.”

The Palestinian elections have gained international attention that helped create momentum; however, the decision to postpone the elections came a “deep disappointment” to the EU.

In a statement by High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell on the postponement of the elections, he said: “The EU has consistently expressed its support for credible, inclusive and transparent elections for all Palestinians. We firmly believe that strong, inclusive, accountable and functioning democratic Palestinian institutions based on respect for the rule of law and human rights are vital for the Palestinian people, for democratic legitimacy and, ultimately, for the two-state solution ... We reiterate our call on Israel to facilitate the holding of such elections across all of the Palestinian territory, including in East Jerusalem.”

“To us, whatever the Palestinians decide we will go with, the Palestinian legitimacy for us is the Palestinian Authority, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, so we deal with the Palestinian Authority as a political entity, whatever they have arranged within that authority that is their business. We deal with the official Palestinian institutions that we recognize as representing the Palestinian people and that is the Palestinian authority,” Momani concluded.

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