Palestinians announce first elections in 15 years, on eve of Biden era
By Ali Sawafta and Nidal al-Mughrabi RAMALLAH, West Bank/GAZA (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced parliamentary and presidential elections on Friday, the first in 15 years, in an effort to heal long-standing internal divisions. The move is widely seen as a response to criticism of the democratic legitimacy of Palestinian political institutions, including Abbas's presidency
By Ali Sawafta and Nidal al-Mughrabi
RAMALLAH, West Bank/GAZA (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced parliamentary and presidential elections on Friday, the first in 15 years, in an effort to heal long-standing internal divisions.
The move is widely seen as a response to criticism of the democratic legitimacy of Palestinian political institutions, including Abbas's presidency.
It also comes days before the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, with whom the Palestinians want to reset relations after they reached a low under President Donald Trump.
According to a decree issued by Abbas's office, the Palestinian Authority, which has limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, will hold legislative elections on May 22 and a presidential vote on June 31.
"The President instructed the election committee and all state apparatuses of the state to launch a democratic election process in all cities of the homeland," the decree said, referring to the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
The Palestinians' last parliamentary ballot in 2006 resulted in a surprise win by Hamas, widening an internal political rift that led to the group's military seizure of the Gaza Strip in 2007.
Palestinian factions have renewed reconciliation efforts after Israel reached diplomatic agreements last year with four Arab countries, accords that dismayed Palestinians and prompted their leaders to try to present a united front. There was no immediate comment from Hamas on Abbas's announcement.
(Reporting by Ali Sawafta in Ramallah; Writing by Rami Ayyub and Stephen Farrell, Editing by Toby Chopra and William Maclean)
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By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.