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In new blow to Palestinian unity, Hamas stops registering voters in Gaza (TIMES OF ISRAEL) By ELHANAN MILLER 07/03/12)Source: http://www.timesofisrael.com/in-new-blow-to-palestinian-unity-hamas-stops-registering-voters-in-gaza/ TIMES OF ISRAEL TIMES OF ISRAEL Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Move suspends progress toward elections; Islamists claim PA persecutes its members in the West Bank

In a new setback to reconciliation attempts with Fatah, Hamas has stopped registering voters in the Gaza Strip, a necessary step towards elections which the Islamic movement agreed to hold just five weeks ago.

Sami Abu-Zuhri, a spokesman for Hamas, said Tuesday that the move came following Fatah’s “selective” adoption of the reconciliation process. He added that PA security forces continue to arrests Hamas members in the West Bank, scaring away movement members from enlisting in the West Bank voter registry for fear of persecution.

“We cannot carry out any oversight of the registry process in the West Bank because our representatives cannot fulfill their role due to the security crackdown,” he told the press Tuesday.

“How can a political detainee go and register?” he asked ironically. “How can we go to elections when security coordination continues with the occupation?”

The Palestinian Authority lambasted Hamas’s decision Tuesday. PLO official Yasser Abed Rabbo told the Voice of Palestine radio station that Hamas “continues to place hurdles and excuses before the reconciliation process, underscoring its lack of willingness to end the divide.”

Hisham Kahil, executive director of the Central Elections Committee, told Maan news agency that Hamas’s accusations of election fraud were unfounded, as Hamas itself chose the 500 clerks tasked with registration from within the ranks of the Hamas ministry of education.

Hamas and Fatah have been at odds for the past five years since Hamas’s violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007. The PA continues to arrest and summon Hamas members in the West Bank, prompting hundreds of Palestinians to demonstrate Saturday and Sunday in Ramallah.

In an interview with Maan Tuesday, Palestinian billionaire and independent politician Munib Masri warned that the continuation of the political divide between Fatah and Hamas will lead to “a second Nakba,” a reference to the tragedy of the creation of Israel which fragmented Palestinian society. (© 2012 THE TIMES OF ISRAEL 07/03/12)

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