RAMALLAH, Saturday, January 8, 2022 (WAFA) – The Palestinian Central Elections Commission (CEC) said today that the number of currently registered voters in the localities that are included in the second phase of the local elections reached more than 785,000 citizens; or 89% of eligible voters, 17 years or older.
It said in a press release that it opened today, and for five days, the Registration, Exhibition and Challenge period for the second phase of the local elections, which is scheduled to be held on March 26 and will include all the cities and major towns in the West Bank not included in the first phase held in December.
The CEC said it opened 358 Registration, Exhibition and Challenge centers across 102 localities in the West Bank only since the de facto authorities in the Gaza Strip have not agreed to allow local elections to be held in the besieged sea enclave.
The CEC said on January 1 that it received a letter from the Islamic Resistance Movement – Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, about its position on holding the second phase of the local elections in the Gaza Strip. The letter, it said, included certain conditions for allowing elections to be held there.
CEC Chairman Hanna Nasir said that the conditions, which he described as "political", require addressing the political level and that the CEC does not have any mandate to decide on any of the matters. He said that until this happens, the CEC considers that the local elections cannot possibly be currently held in Gaza.
The first phase of local elections was held on December 11 in 153 small and medium-sized localities only in the West Bank after Hamas has also refused to allow them to be held in 11 localities in the Gaza Strip. Another 162 localities in the West Bank did not have any elections since there was only one running list, which won by acclamation, and that 61 other localities have failed to submit lists and therefore were moved to the second phase of the elections on 26 March. Turnout for the first phase was 66.14 percent of the eligible voters.
With the inclusion of the 61 localities from the first phase and the 11 from the Gaza Strip, the overall number of localities included in the second phase has become 127 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, assuming elections are going to be held in the 25 Gaza localities as well, which leaves only the 102 localities in the West Bank. The number of eligible voters in all West Bank and Gaza localities has reached more than 1.8 million, said the CEC.
Local elections will not be held in refugee camps across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which have a special status, or in occupied East Jerusalem where Israel does not allow any Palestinian elections in the annexed part of the city where over 350,000 Palestinians live.