Hamas urges Palestinian Authority to release members jailed in West Bank

The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has urged Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA) to prepare an fair atmosphere for free elections and halt all forms of persecution against its members in the West Bank.

In a statement released on Thursday, Hamas called on the Ramallah-based authority to release all political prisoners held at West Bank jails and guarantee media freedom. 

“It is high time to turn the page of the past once and for all and move forward towards a true Palestinian partnership capable of rebuilding the Palestinian political system on sound foundations,” the statement read.

Hamas also hailed the Gaza Interior Ministry for releasing nearly four dozen detainees accused or convicted of committing serious violations that directly harmed the Palestinian resistance.

It said the step reflected “the keenness of the movement and the government apparatuses in Gaza on creating more positive climates in light of the preparations for the elections.”

In January, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that the 2021 elections would include the legislative vote scheduled for May 22, the presidential vote to be held on July 31 and the Palestinian National Council elections slated for August 31.

This came after Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Hamas political bureau, wrote a letter to the Palestinian president, calling for an end to divisions. 

Rival Palestinian factions united after former US President Donald Trump unveiled the “deal of the century,” a hugely pro-Tel Aviv scheme. 

The Palestinian leadership has been divided between Fatah and Hamas since 2006, when the latter scored a landslide victory in parliamentary elections in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Hamas has ever since been running the densely-populated coastal enclave, while Fatah has been based in the autonomous parts of the occupied West Bank.

The relation between the Palestinian Authority and the United States soured after Trump recognized the whole Jerusalem al-Quds as the “capital” of Israel and moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the city.

Trump had also cut aid to Palestinians in the West Bank and proposed the much-condemned plan that allowed Israel to seize large parts of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley. 

The key Palestinian factions recently held talks in Egypt to tackle issues that could jeopardize long-awaited elections. A range of thorny issues such as judicial and security arrangements for the vote and the fate of Palestinian voters in East Jerusalem al-Quds were discussed during the reconciliation talks.

After long years of division, Palestinians hope to witness a real internal reconciliation on ground; they say the most important thing is to translate the statements from both Fatah and Hamas groups to immediate actions. Palestinians believe rebuilding the political system on sound democratic bases is not impossible, that it can happen through free and transparent elections.

Hamas has for years defended the besieged Gaza Strip from frequent Israeli incursions, notably during three wars the regime imposed on the impoverished enclave.

Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza, and the East Jerusalem al-Quds in the 1967 war, territories the Palestinians want for their future state.  

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