The suspension comes hours after a Gaza appeals court supervised by Hamas disqualified Fatah candidate lists in five municipalities. The high court also said the decision to suspend the election was made after a legal challenge was filed on behalf of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, who would not have been allowed to vote because Israeli officials consider the district a part of Israel.
The election was scheduled to be held on Oct. 8. Palestinians would have voted for leaders to fill 3,818 seats on 416 municipal councils in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The election is now indefinitely put on hold.
“Elections can’t take place in one place and not the other,” a high court judge said in his ruling. “The election can’t take place in Jerusalem and its neighborhoods. Also, there are problems with the formation of courts in Gaza … therefore, the court decides to stop the election.”
Fatah and Hamas have not competed against each other in an election since 2006. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have not voted in 10 years. The West Bank held municipal elections in 2012 but many districts and Hamas did not participate.
Fayez Abu Aitah, spokesman for Fatah, criticized the Gaza appeals court decision.
“Disqualifying these lists constitutes a massacre carried out by the Hamas courts against Fatah lists in Gaza,” he said.
A Hamas spokesman said suspending the election “was a political one that aims to rescue the Fatah party from defeat after some of its candidates were disqualified.”