All the factions, including Fatah, the largest group, said on Monday they were committed to holding the elections on 25 January and would not accept any delays.
Addressing the signing ceremony in Ram Allah and speaking on behalf of the National and Islamic Forces, Qais Abd al-Karim of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine said: “We are here to announce to the whole world that we are committed to democratic principles, and that democracy is the only road to reform our institutions and build our home.”
Some reports said the Palestinian legislative elections could be delayed for the second time due to internal and external pressure. The elections were first scheduled for 17 July.
The Palestinian Central Elections Commission has also participated in drafting the code and added its signature to the document.
Missing from ceremony
The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, was the only faction that did not participate in Monday’s signing ceremony, held in Ram Allah in the presence of heads of factions participating in the 25 January elections.
According to Abd al-Rahman Abu Arafa, director of the Arab Thought Forum, which spearheaded the code of conduct initiative, “miscommunication” between the Hamas leadership in Gaza and the West Bank was the main reason for failure of the movement to sign the code.
Over 600 Hamas members have
He said that the recent Israeli arrest of Hasan Yusuf, the Hamas representative in the West Bank who took part in drafting the 25-article code, contributed to the miscommunication.
Usama Hamdan, a Hamas spokesman in Lebanon, told Aljazeera that since the last talks more than 600 of the movement’s members, including Hasan, were arrested in the West Bank.
“Therefore, Hamas’s participation in these talks has been suspended,” said Hamdan.
Coordinators of the talks promised to resume negotiations with Hamas members in the Gaza Strip.
“However, they could not travel to Gaza on the day the agreement was signed,” said Hamdan.
Demand not met
Hamdan added that Hamas had asked for a postponement of the meeting to continue talks about related issues, “but our demand has not been met”.
“Therefore, this agreement has not been entirely approved by Hamas.”
Hamas, said Hamdan, “objects to some of the issues stated in it”.
On 25 January Palestinians will
Hamas has not participated in the final drafting of the covenant, although it contributed to its initial drafting, the spokesman continued.
Hamdan would not mention the particular issues which Hamas is concerned with, saying “we want to discuss the disputed issues directly with the other Palestinian factions, not through media organisations.
This is particularly so as this code controls the inter-Palestinian relations, Hamdan added.
“Continuing these talks serve Palestinian interests and will develop the code.”
Another Hamas leader, Mahmoud al-Zahar, based in Gaza, told Aljazeera the group had reservations about the code of honour and wanted it to be reviewed by other Palestinian factions before Hamas gave its assent.
For its part, the Islamic Jihad has criticised the remarks of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas decrying the attack carried out by the group on Sunday.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Islamic Jihad described Abbas’s condemnation as “a new low” and “a serious relapse” in the official stand of the Palestinian Authority.
In another development, Aljazeera’s correspondent in Palestine said about 240 activists of Fatah in southern Gaza have announced their resignation from the movement in protest against what they called severe setbacks and the distortion of democratic practices within the party.
“Continuing these talks serve Palestinian interests and will develop the code”
A spokesman for the protesting members in Abu Yusuf al-Najar district, east of Rafah, also attributed the resignations to the culture of putting personal interests ahead of the common good, poor performance and lack of accountability in the ranks of the movement.
Separately, a spokesman for Firsan al-Asifa (Knights of the Storm), an armed group linked to Fatah, said his group kidnapped on Tuesday morning two men in Gaza whose identities they have not disclosed.
The abduction was conducted in order to investigate what he called the duo’s connection to the Israeli intelligence organisations and their involvement in certain security issues
The two men were led to an unidentified destination, the spokesman said.
Also on Tuesday, hundreds of Palestinian workers rallied on Tuesday in front of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) building in Gaza, demanding job opportunities and exemption them from water, electricity and education services charges.
The demonstrations forced the PLC to adjourn its session.