Palestine faces fresh chaos as Gaza elections cancelled

Palestinian judges arrive to deliver their verdict in Ramallah (Getty)

Monday, October 3, 2016

Palestine's highest court has ruled that municipal elections can go ahead in the West Bank but not the Gaza Strip, prompting heavy criticism from militant group Hamas.

The ruling by the court in Ramallah amends its decision last month to cancel elections in both regions, following a dispute over candidate lists between Hamas, which controls Gaza, and Fatah, which rules in the West Bank. 

Today's ruling appears to end the prospect of a first political contest between the two groups in a decade, when Hamas won a shock election victory to spark a period of in-fighting. The Islamist group, which is proscribed in both the US and UK, took control of Gaza the following year.

Hamas has rejected today's verdict, claiming it "boosts division and reflects discrimination," and urged its followers to reject it.

A spokesman for the group, Sami Abu Zuhri, said: "Hamas rejects the court's decision that divides the Palestinian people and will consult with other factions on how to confront it."

The stand-off comes amid mounting pressure on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, a member of Fatah. Shots were reportedly fired at his home just hours after he attended the funeral of former Israeli president Shimon Peres.