Salam Fayyad Calls for West Bank Elections
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is calling for parliamentary elections in the West Bank to be held soon, without waiting for a reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. He compared the Gaza-West Bank split to that of East and West Germany during the Cold War, and said that it does not make sense to stall on elections simply because of the division. President Mahmoud Abbas has said that he will not allow such elections unless East Jerusalem residents can vote as well, to which Fayyad countered that “we are creating obstacles by saying, ‘if we can’t do it in Jerusalem, then we can’t do it’”. Meanwhile, voter registration in the West Bank opened on Sunday for local elections to be held in October. The same elections commission was supposed to register voters in Gaza in July, but Hamas cancelled the process before it began.
Israelis are still taking to the streets over economic inequality, and the most recent demonstrations have seen thousands protesting against government austerity measures which include steep tax hikes and spending cuts. Protesters are also calling for universal conscription for military or community service, as opposed to the current exemptions which allow religious Jewish Israelis to defer military service. The Workers Advice Center writes on the cuts, contending that instead of stimulating economy activity and creating jobs, they will worsen the economy and cause more unemployment: “This is a slap in the face for the social protest movement which for over a year has been demanding social justice and a halt to the privatization and retrenchment of public services.”
More details are emerging about the attack on the Israeli-Egyptian border in the Sinai. The Israeli government had been issuing warnings about the increasing lawlessness in the Sinai for months, but both Hamas and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood made accusations yesterday that the Mossad was somehow behind the incident. The Washington Post published an editorial yesterday warning of the dangers of Islamic extremism and destabilization in the Sinai, and Issandr el-Amrani writes at The Arabist about the consequences and potential ramifications of the attack for Egyptian politics, the peace process, and the status of the Gaza-Egypt border crossing at Rafah.