Palestinian Top Court Rules Local Election in West Bank Only

The Palestinian Supreme Court ruled that delayed municipal elections seen as a test of President Mahmoud Abbas’s strength will take place only in the West Bank and not in the Gaza Strip.

The official Wafa news agency reported Monday that the Abbas-led Palestinian Authority will have one month to set a date for the vote. The Central Elections Commission said holding the elections in just one area would deepen the rift between the West Bank and Gaza and recommended to Abbas that he delay the vote for six months.

The election, originally scheduled for Oct. 8 and then postponed following a challenge to its legality, was to have been the first in both the West Bank and Gaza since the militant Hamas group won an upset victory in 2006 parliamentary elections.

Since 2007, the West Bank has been governed by the Palestinian Authority, dominated by Abbas’s Fatah party, and Gaza has been controlled by Hamas, which seized power from the limited self-rule government in a week of violence.

Abbas has remained in office since his four-year term expired in 2009, falling increasingly out of favor with his people over his failure to win the establishment of an independent Palestinian state through diplomacy with Israel.

His bitter enemy Hamas is considered a terrorist group by Israel and the U.S., and is trying to win removal from the European Union’s list of terrorist organizations.

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