Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas issued an official decree last Friday, ordering that elections be held within seven months. According to the decree, elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council will be held on May 22. Another round of elections will be held on for the Palestinian Authority president on July 31. Yet another round will be held on August 31 for the Palestinian National Council. Just prior to the announcement, Abbas issued a number of unilateral amendments to the Palestinian elections law.
The last time elections were held in the PA was 2006 and Abbas was elected to a four-year term in 2005 after replacing Yasser Arafat, who served a four-year term lasting from 1994-2004. In those elections to determine rule over Gaza, Judea, and Samaria, Hamas won 74 seats out of the 132 seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council. Abbas’ party, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (an outgrowth of the terrorist organization founded by Arafat), refused to allow them into the government but Hamas took control of Gaza by force, expelling the PLO. The PA, which was formed as a result of the Oslo Accords signed in 1993, then took control of the Arab population in Judea and Samaria. In 2018, Abbas dissolved the Parliament, promising new elections within six months. News elections were never held.
Local municipal elections have been held in the West Bank twice, with Hamas largely boycotting the proceedings. Abbas has called for election several times in the past, the last time being in 2009.
According to a Palestinian poll, in a race for President/Chairman of the PA in Judea and Samaria, Abbas would lose to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. Abbas’ closest competition within his own party comes from Marwan Barghout who was convicted for his involvement in the murder of 5 Israelis. He is currently serving 5 consecutive life sentences plus an additional 40 years in an Israeli prison. According to a poll, if Barghouti were to face Hamas’ Haniyeh in presidential elections, Barghouti would receive 61% of the vote as opposed to 37% voting for Haniyeh.