Carter Center Statement on Palestine Elections Postponement

Contact: In Atlanta, Soyia Ellison,

ATLANTA — The Carter Center hopes that today’s decision by the Palestinian High Court of Justice to postpone municipal elections in Gaza and the West Bank will not result in a long delay or the cancelling of these elections.

Regular municipal elections are an important means of improving service delivery in local governments throughout the occupied territory, while also giving Palestinians a voice in selecting local leadership. The initial decision by the Palestinian Authority cabinet to hold the elections on schedule, in October 2016, was a success for Palestinian rule of law. The Carter Center also appreciates Hamas’ decision to facilitate and engage in the process.

The successful conduct of local elections has direct bearing on prospects for holding long-overdue national elections. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly suggested that national elections must be the first step toward ending Palestine’s internal political division, before other issues can be addressed.

The split between Fatah-led Palestinian Authority institutions in the West Bank and Hamas-dominated institutions in Gaza inevitably makes the conduct of elections, whether local or national, challenging. Ideally, the parties would agree to reform and reunite Palestinian institutions in advance of an election. If such agreements cannot be reached – as the failure of successive reconciliation agreements suggests – then the parties must find mechanisms to allow elections within the context of the existing legal and institutional division between the West Bank and Gaza.

Municipal elections should be viewed as an opportunity to cultivate goodwill and trust between the parties, while also developing the practical modalities that will be necessary to conduct national elections in both territories.


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A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in over 80 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; and improving mental health care. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.