The head of the Palestinian Studies Forum at the Moshe Dayan Centre for Middle Eastern and African Studies, retired Colonel Michael Milstein, said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas made a mistake by calling for elections because he could be forced to either suspend his proposal or hold the elections only in the occupied West Bank.
Milstein, who is a former adviser on Palestinian affairs to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the (occupied Palestinian) Territories and a senior officer in the Israeli army intelligence, explained that Hamas surprised Abbas by accepting all of his terms to hold the elections, forcing him to add two new conditions.
According to Milstein, the new conditions are to recognise the agreements signed between the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Israel, including the Oslo Accords, and to control the financing of the electoral process, as well as disclose the funding sources of the movement’s electoral campaign.
Holding elections only in the West Bank would harm Fatah’s image, Milstein explained, because it would be seen to be separating between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
According to the Israeli expert, Abbas called for the elections out of his fear that the Arab Spring events taking place in Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq could be transferred to the Palestinian territories. He hopes, Milstein added, to gain legitimacy from the election.
The last Palestinian general election was held in the occupied territories in 2006 and Hamas was victorious. Abbas refused to hand over power to the movement thus setting in motion the political separation of the occupied West Bank – which his Fatah movement governs – and besieged Gaza Strip – headed by Hamas.