Within the corridors of the General Shura Council and the leading bodies of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), intensive consultations are being held in preparation for the internal elections to choose a new leadership that will lead the movement for the next 4 years.
The Hamas elections – this time – gain double importance due to their coincidence with the general Palestinian elections scheduled for May for the Legislative Council and for the presidency next July.
The Shura Council rejected a proposal to postpone the holding of internal elections for a year, with the aim of devoting time to the entitlement of the legislative elections, which requires the movement to make great efforts in order to achieve satisfactory results, which achieved the majority in the last elections held in early 2006.
An official source in Hamas confirmed to Al-Jazeera Net that initial preparations for holding elections have actually begun in several areas, but the date for holding them has not yet been set.
The source does not rule out that the results of the upcoming Cairo dialogue within days, to discuss the files of the general elections, will have an impact on the date of Hamas conducting its internal elections, whether by postponement, which is approved by the internal system for urgent circumstances, or by advancing its date and shortening its time period, to allow the new leadership to prepare well for the legislative elections. .
According to the same source, it is likely that in the event of the success of the upcoming Cairo dialogue in the first week of next month, Hamas will immediately start holding its internal elections, provided that their completion does not exceed two months instead of 6 months.
Hamas conducts its internal elections in complete secrecy in 3 regions, namely the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and the outside, once every 4 years, to choose its leadership, which ranges from the leadership of sub-regions and squares through the Shura Council to the Political Bureau, which is the highest “executive authority” in the movement.
The Political Bureau consists of 15 members, distributed equally across Gaza, the West Bank, and abroad, chosen by the General Shura Council, which is the highest organizational authority, and the exact number of its members is not known.
The last elections were held in 2017, and Ismail Haniyeh was appointed as head of the Political Bureau, which is the first time that a Gaza-based leader presides over this high position.
Prison elections and the voice of the West Bank
Last month, Hamas achieved the election of a new leadership for the “Supreme Leadership Council” in the occupation prisons. The prisoner Salama Al-Qatawi was appointed as president, the captive Abdel Nasser Issa as his deputy, and 13 prisoners who represented the movement’s prisoners in various prisons.
The responsible source in Hamas revealed that the prisoners are calling for the prisons to be approved as a “fourth region” in the movement’s elections, and for the automatically elected head of the body to become a member of the new political bureau, while his deputy will be a member of the General Shura Council.
In this case, the prisoners will have, for the first time in years, a representative in the political office, while the movement’s regulations stipulate that the head of the commission and his deputy represent the prisoners in the Shura Council.
A prominent Hamas leader in the West Bank, the Minister of Prisoners in the tenth government, who was described as its title, defended the right of the prisoners to be represented in the Political Bureau.
His title expressed his dissatisfaction with the representation of the prisoners, and the West Bank, in the last electoral cycle, and said, “It is not acceptable that the prisoners do not have a representative, and those who represent the West Bank have members residing outside it.”
The West Bank is represented in the Politburo by released prisoners deported from abroad, or leaders who settled in regional capitals, not including one member residing inside them.
His surname said to Al-Jazeera Net, “The principle is that whoever leaves the West Bank is counted on the quota of the outside, and leaves the representation of the West Bank to its people and owners, for they are more aware of its worries and suffering.”
He added that “the West Bank is not an orphan child in need of tutelage (…) We are here suffering from the security pursuit, arrests of the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli occupation, and we know our affairs.”
The West Bank file is currently supervised by the Deputy Head of the Political Bureau, Saleh al-Arouri, who has resided abroad since his deportation in 2011, after his release from the occupation prisons as part of the “loyalty of the free” deal.
According to Hamas’s internal system, the movement, which is taking place at the end of this year of 34 years of its life, is characterized by a unique system that relies on secrecy, and does not allow anyone to run directly for membership in any of its leadership bodies, but is based on the principle of “recommendation”, by selecting personalities to compete for vacancy in leadership seats from Lower levels to higher alike.
Calls for renewal
Recently, leadership voices have emerged from within Hamas, calling for a change in the traditional pattern of elections, in order to keep pace with developments and face internal and external challenges.
One of them is the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Social Development in Gaza, Ghazi Hamad, who wrote a lengthy article entitled “Hamas elections between traditional stereotypes and the required renewal,” in which he said that the time has come to “break the tradition and go toward change, frankness, boldness, and qualitative action.”
He added, “It is wrong to limit the elections of a large movement with a history and popular and patriotic presence to purely partisan walls, or simply to pass traditional leaderships, or that the biggest concern of Hamas is that Hamas ends its elections peacefully.”
“The Hamas base, after 33 years of organizational, political and social work, has not crystallized an opinion or opinion in expanding its electoral horizon, in terms of opening the door to creative competition among members, in proposing visions and ideas, competing in reforming the movement situation, or advocating in proposing solutions. Meaningful patriotism. “
Hamad said that some want the elections to remain traditional stereotyped, “tending to closed secrecy that denies members the ability to communicate, openness and revise leadership and positions, and limits the choice to very limited geographical areas.”
For his part, a member of the Hamas political bureau in Gaza, Suhail al-Hindi, told Al-Jazeera Net, “Hamas is a democratic, democratic movement that believes in renewal, the infusion of new blood, and giving leadership to all generations.”
This is evidenced by Hamas’s keenness to hold its elections on schedule, even in the past years during which the movement faced internal and external pressures, according to Al-Hindi.
Al-Hindi stressed that Hamas is currently holding internal consultations quietly, away from the clamor, to achieve elections that used to be free from competition based on blackmail or the advancement of self-interests over the public interest.