The decision, announced by Palestinian Authority (PA) Minister of Local Governance Khalid al-Kawasmi on Sunday evening, is expected to draw an angry reaction from the 170,000 residents of the city, many of whom are supporters of the Islamic resistance movement, Hamas.
 
Al-Kawasmi blamed "Israeli impediments" for the delay, saying Israel had refused to give assurances it would allow the PA to organise "fair, free and transparent elections" in the city.
 
Hebron is controlled by the Israeli occupation army.
 
"I know some people will say it is because we dread a Hamas victory that we have postponed the elections," said al-Kawasmi.

"However, the truth of the matter is that the postponement is the result of Israeli restrictive measures that would corrode and undermine the credibility of the elections."
 
Israeli refusal

Al-Kawasmi told Aljazeera.net that Israel refused to commit itself to withdraw troops from the PA-run part of Hebron, known as H-1, for three days to facilitate the organisation of the elections.

Hebron is controlled by the
Israeli occupation army

"So how can we possibly hold elections while Israeli tanks and military vehicles roam the streets?" al-Kawasmi asked.
 
An Israeli army spokesman, AviHai Adraei, said the Israeli army did not intend to interfere with the elections.
 
While asserting that the elections were an internal Palestinian matter, Adraei confirmed that the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) did not commit itself to withdraw from Hebron for three days for the elections.
 
Asked why the Israeli army gave the PA assurances to facilitate elections in other Palestinian towns but not in Hebron, Adraei said the decision had been made at a "political level, the government".
 
However, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev told Aljazeera.net that the PA decision had nothing to do with Israel.
 
"I can assure you that the PA has not approached us on this matter. They have not asked us to facilitate the elections. The IDF is totally unaware of any problems in this regard."
 
Criticism
 
The postponement of the local elections in Hebron was denounced by all Palestinian factions except Fatah, which dominates the PA.

"We know who is behind this undemocratic decision. It is those who want to perpetuate the status quo and maintain stagnation, corruption, misgovernment and despotism"

Aziz Dweik,
Professor, Al-Najah University, Nablus

"This decision shows that the PA has no democratic credentials, that it can't be trusted for the fate and well-being of the Palestinian people," said Aziz Dweik, a Muslim leader in Hebron.
 
Dweik, a professor of geography at Nablus's Al-Najah University, told Aljazeera.net that the PA had no right to defy the people's will by putting off elections arbitrarily. 
 
Another leader, Azzam Hassuneh, blamed Fatah for the delay.
 
"We know who is behind this undemocratic decision - it is those who want to perpetuate the status quo and maintain stagnation, corruption, misgovernment and despotism," he said.
 
"Ill-conceived"

A leaflet signed by the Islamic Movement in Hebron and circulated throughout the city on Monday morning accused the PA of "malice and ill-will".
 
"We shall not remain silent, and we will take every necessary measure to force the PA to respect the will of people and end this wanton state of dictatorship, despotism and authoritarianism," the leaflet stated. 
 
The Popular and Democratic Fronts for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and (DFLP) as well as the Palestine People's Party (PPP) also rejected the postponement of the elections, calling the decision "ill-conceived and politically motivated" and constituting a "confiscation of the inherent civil and human rights of our people".
 
A Hamas spokesman told Aljazeera.net the movement and other political factions would organise demonstrations throughout the city to protest against the delay.