(Flash90/Abed Rahim Khatib)
palestinian elections gaza

With polls showing a lack of faith by Palestinians in their leaders, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas is expected to use Jerusalem as the excuse to cancel the long-awaited elections.

By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel

The long overdue Palestinian elections scheduled to take place next month might not be happening after all, a top Palestinian official said Tuesday.

With the outcome next month uncertain, senior Fatah official Nabil Shaath said in a statement that there is a possibility of postponing the May 22 elections unless Israel allows polling stations in Jerusalem, a step Israel has rejected.

It’s been 16 years since the 2005 elections when Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas was elected for a four-year term. Although Abbas won the presidency, the Iran-backed Hamas terror group won the general election but was never allowed to take control of the Palestinian legislature.

Frustrated with the situation, Hamas took the law into its own hands and staged a bloody military coup in Gaza in 2007, seizing power there from Abbas and killing or arresting the members of Abbas’ Fatah Party who had controlled Gaza until then.

Ever since, both Abbas and Hamas have avoided elections, happy to hang on to absolute power and unwilling to risk losing it to the other side in a vote.

Despite Abbas’ surprise call a few months ago to hold new elections, it looks like keeping the status quo is a safer bet. News reports are flush with the Palestinians saying they are going to be “forced” to cancel the elections because of Israel.

The hangup? Israel’s refusal to let 6,000 residents of Jerusalem take part in the Palestinian voting. Israel bars the PA from operating in the city, which is the united capital of the Jewish State.

Would those votes change the outcome of the election? Probably not, as they’re a drop in the bucket among the 2.5 million Palestinians in Gaza, Judea and Samaria who are eligible to vote.

But Abbas and his Fatah party are worried about opposition parties they fear will kill their chance of victory.

That happened in 2005, and the result was that Palestinians voted for different Fatah-related lists – splitting the vote and leaving the Hamas list as the biggest.

So even though those 6,000 votes would not make much of a dent in the outcome, it’s the perfect excuse for Abbas keep his power going.

And if the elections are held, the Palestinians themselves have little faith that their leaders will accept the results. A recent public opinion poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found 69% of Palestinians believe that if Hamas wins the elections, Fatah will not accept the results, while 60% said that if Fatah wins the elections, Hamas will not accept the outcome.