Palestinian president briefs Egypt, Jordan on election plan

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a news conference following the extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, Turkey, December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

RAMALLAH (RAHNUMA): Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday hosted the Egyptian and Jordanian intelligence chiefs to brief them on plans to hold the first Palestinian elections in 14 years.

Abbas issued a decree on Friday announcing plans for parliamentary elections in May and a presidential election in July. The rival Islamic militant group Hamas, which seized control of the Gaza Strip from Abbas’ forces in 2007, welcomed the decree.

The elections would mark a major step toward reconciling the Palestinian rift between Abbas’ Fatah movement, which runs the West Bank, and Hamas. But many obstacles remain, and past attempts at reconciliation have repeatedly failed.

In a statement, Abbas’ office said it briefed the Egyptian and Jordanian delegations on “the latest developments related to the Palestinian issue, specifically the national reconciliation file” and thanked both countries for their assistance. Jordan borders the West Bank, while Egypt border Gaza.

The rival Palestinian factions are to meet in Egypt next week, hoping to settle their differences before election campaigning kicks off.

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