by Sanaa Kamal
RAMALLAH/GAZA, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- The Palestinians have repeatedly expressed their hope to hold presidential and legislative elections as soon as possible in order to confront the multiple challenges they have been facing.
Local residents from the West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip said that the political division between the rival Fatah and Hamas movements for more than 13 years has negatively affected the Palestinian cause and weakened its position in the international community.
"The internal division gives Israel the chance to implement its plans in the occupied Palestinian territories," Jawwad Jaradat, from the West Bank city of Ramallah, told Xinhua.
He said Israel has passed dozens of its "resolutions," while the Palestinian leadership could not stop them because of the weakness due to the internal division.
He called on Fatah and Hamas to accelerate their reconciliation efforts to confront the Israeli annexation plans, as well as to face the normalization agreements between Israel and some Arab states.
For his part, Ibrahim al-Arouri from Ramallah believes that holding general elections in the Palestinian territories would result in a united Palestinian front, which would be able to draw new political strategies that would enable the Palestinians to fight for their rights.
"Unfortunately, neither Israel nor the Arab states end our issue, but our leadership and factions have contributed to this situation because they kept internal division in place," the 38-year-old young man said.
The internal Palestinian division began in 2007 when Hamas forcibly took over Gaza from Fatah, which now controls the West Bank.
Repeated Arab and international mediations that aimed at ending the crisis have failed, although the two rivals did sign a series of understandings and agreements on internal unity.
The ongoing division and the continued Israeli blockade have negatively affected the coastal enclave, which has seen three large-scale military operations by Israel.
Mamdouh al-Khaldy from Gaza city told Xinhua that the hard-living conditions were a direct result of the internal division.
"Not only Israel but also Hamas and Fatah bear the responsibility for the deteriorating conditions," the 53-year-old resident said, adding that they "destroyed an entire generation because of their party ambitions."
However, he hopes that the two rival factions could manage to overcome their differences and look at the Palestinian people's interests.
A Fatah delegation headed by Jibril Rajoub, secretary-general of Fatah's Central Committee, and a Hamas delegation headed by Saleh Arouri, deputy chief of Hamas, met on Tuesday in Turkey to end their internal division and achieve reconciliation.
"The meetings in Turkey are an extension of the previous meetings and dialogues held between the two Palestinian movements," said in a press statement Khalil al-Hayya, a member of Hamas' politburo.
"Hamas is keen to achieve unity to reach a comprehensive national strategy to confront the challenges, deals, and plans that target the Palestinian cause," al-Hayya noted.
For his part, Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee, said that the meetings in Turkey discussed holding general elections in Palestine.
"If the delegation of Fatah gets the approval on holding general elections, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will immediately issue a presidential decree setting a date for the elections," Erekat added. Enditem