Elections in Palestine

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Officeholders whose status is disputed are shown in italics

Elections for the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) were held in Palestinian Autonomous areas from 1994 until their transition into the State of Palestine in 2013. Elections were scheduled to be held in 2009 per the state's own laws,[1] but the Next Palestinian general election was disrupted amidst a conflict between Hamas and Fatah. President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to stay on until the next election,[2] but he is recognised only in the West Bank and not in Gaza. The Palestinian National Authority has held several elections in the Palestinian territories, including elections for a president, legislature and local councils.

The Palestinian Legislative Council passed a new law in June 2005 (signed by Mahmoud Abbas on 13 August 2005), increasing the number of members from 88 to 132. It stipulates that half be elected under a system of proportional representation and half by plurality-at-large voting in traditional constituencies.[3] In 2007, the voting system was changed by Presidential Decree to abolish the constituency seats, and also prohibiting parties from contesting the election which did not acknowledge the PLO's right to represent the Palestinian people (specifically Hamas).[4] An opinion poll suggested that a majority of Palestinians supported the change, while Hamas called it illegal.[5]

The PNA has a multi-party system, with numerous parties. In this system Fatah was the dominant party. The first Legislative and presidential election were held in 1996; the first local elections in January–May 2005, organized by PNA president Yasser Arafat before his death. Previous (failed) legislative Council elections were held in 1923 under the British Mandate. Previous municipal elections were held in 1972 and 1976 and were organized by the Israeli occupational government.[6]

The January 2005 presidential election, won by Mahmoud Abbas, preceded the Hamas victory during the legislative election in January 2006.

Importance of the elections

Elections in the Palestinian Authority are held to exercise the Palestinian right to self-determination in connection with their right to establish their own state, but are held under military occupation.[7] They are held in the framework of the Oslo Accords, meaning that the power of the PNA was (and is) limited to matters such as culture, education, ID-cards, and the distribution of land and water as per the Oslo Interim Agreement.[upper-alpha 1][8]

Israel does not allow free exercise of political activities; checkpoints and separation walls hinder many social activities. The parliament cannot properly function because free travel is impossible, especially between Gaza and the West Bank, regardless of hostilities between Fatah and Hamas. Members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and other politicians have been subject to lengthy detentions by Israel or even killed, particularly those of Hamas. In October 2007, 2 ex-ministers and 45 PLC members were in Israeli detention.[9] In July 2012, there were 4,706 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. Of these, 22 are PLC members, of which 18 are in administrative detention.[10][11][12] The November 2013 figures of Addameer give about 5,000 prisoners imprisoned by Israel, of which 14 are members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (10 PLC members in administrative detention).[13]

In the Gaza Strip

Following the Fatah–Hamas conflict that started in 2006, Hamas formed a government ruling the Gaza Strip without elections. A second Hamas government was announced by Gazan Prime Minister Haniyye on September 2012, without elections as well.

Parliamentary elections

1996 parliamentary elections

2006 parliamentary elections

Six parties and 4 Independents won seats. Change and Reform/Hamas gained 44.45% (74 seats); Fatah gained 41.43% (45 seats).

Presidential elections

1996 presidential elections

2005 presidential elections

Mahmoud Abbas gained 62.52%; his most important competing candidate Mustafa Barghouti won 19.48%.

Local elections

2005 local elections

Local elections in 2005 were held in four stages, but were never finalized. The last stage was held on December 23, 2005. On that day, elections were held in 26 municipalities that included over 140,000 eligible voters in Jericho and 25 villages in the West Bank. Over a quarter of Palestinian population was not included in these elections, including major towns such as Hebron. Conflict between Hamas and Fatah anfter legislative elections in 2006 placed local elections on hold.

2010 local elections

Four year term of local councils in Palestinian Authority expired in January 2009. Council of Ministers called for local elections to be held on 17 July 2010, but after Fatah proved incapable of agreeing on list of candidates, the call for elections was canceled on 10 June 2010.

2012 local elections


See here for a useful set of maps in Arabic.

2016 local elections

Elections are on October 8, 2016. No information available.

Central Elections Commission

Following the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1993, the "Elections Commission" was formed to administer the first Palestinian Presidential and Legislative elections in 1996. It was part of the PA. To create an independent and neutral body, the Central Elections Commission (CEC) was established in October 2002 under the General Elections Law of 1995. The elections Law issued on August 2005 stipulated that the CEC is “ the supreme body that undertakes the management, supervision, preparation and organization of elections and to take all necessary measures to ensure its integrity and freedom’’.[14]

Under the Local Council Elections law No. (10) of 2005, the Central Elections Commission became responsible for the organizing of local elections in addition to its responsibilities in organizing the election of the President of the Palestinian National Authority and members of the Legislative Council.[14]

External election assistance

The Elections Reform Support Group (ERSG) was formed with support from the United States and the European Union to support Palestinian elections.[15] One of the leading organizations for the ESRG is the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, which has actively assisted the Central Election Commission in 2004-2005 with the help of USAID.[15] They continue to support the election commission.[15]

See also


  1. From the Oslo II-accord:
    Article I:
    1. Israel shall transfer powers and responsibilities as specified in this Agreement ... Israel shall continue to exercise powers and responsibilities not so transferred.
    Article IX:
    5 a. In accordance with the DOP, the Council will not have powers and responsibilities in the sphere of foreign relations, which sphere includes the establishment abroad of embassies, consulates or other types of foreign missions and posts or permitting their establishment in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, the appointment of or admission of diplomatic and consular staff, and the exercise of diplomatic functions.
    5 b. ... the PLO may conduct negotiations and sign agreements with states or international organizations for the benefit of the Council in the following cases only: 1. economic agreements ...; 2. agreements with donor countries for the purpose of implementing arrangements for the provision of assistance to the Council ; 3. agreements for the purpose of implementing the regional development plans ...; 4. cultural, scientific and educational agreements.


  1. Report: Abbas won't run for another term Ynetnews, 16 December 2008
  2. Elections Law No 9 of 2005, Article (2). 13 August 2005. Source
  3. Aude Signoles, Local Government in Palestine. University of Galatasaray, Turkey; October 2010
  4. UN General Assembly, Resolution 58/292. Status of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. 17 mei 2004 (doc.nr. A/RES/58/292).
  5. ProCon.org, 1995 Oslo Interim Agreement. 28 September 1995. pdf at unhcr
  6. CEIRPP, 4 oktober 2007, Report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, pag. 11, par. 30 (doc.nr. A/62/35)
  7. Addameer, Addameer Monthly Detention Report - 1 July 2012.
  8. Addameer, Palestinian Legislative Council Members, juni 2012
  9. Middle East Monitor (MEMO), Palestinian elected representatives are still detained by Israel, 14 september 2011
  10. Addameer Monthly Detention Report - 1 November 2013.
  11. 1 2 About the CEC. Central Elections Commission. Accessed December 2015
  12. 1 2 3 http://www.ifes.org/westbankgaza.html?page=past IFES West Bank/Gaza. Accessed June 30, 2009

External links

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