September 13, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 10791

Former Advisor To Hamas Leader Calls To Hold Municipal Elections In Gaza Strip

September 13, 2023
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 10791

In an article published on July 26, 2023 in the Palestinian daily Al-Quds, former Hamas official Ahmad Yousuf urged the movement to hold local elections in the Gaza Strip. Yousuf, who was a political advisor to Isma'il Haniya, currently the head of the movement's political bureau, also called to involve political forces other that Hamas in government and to allow party politics while encouraging the younger generation to participate in them.

It should be noted that, since taking over the Gaza Strip in 2007, Hamas has refrained from holding municipal elections and has appointed governors according to its will. This article by Yousuf is one of several he has written over the years criticizing Hamas' despotic policies.[1] It was published amid general dissatisfaction in Gaza with Hamas' performance. Recent manifestations of its problematic performance are the delay in the payment of salaries to public sector workers, the electricity crisis and the repression of internal criticism.     

Ahmad Yousuf (Image:

The following are translated excerpts from Ahmad Yousuf's article:[2]

"The Palestinian citizen in the Gaza Strip is entitled to ask: How much longer need we wait until our living conditions improve and we can feel secure and reassured about the future of our children?  Is there any glimmer of relief and salvation on the horizon, or must we continue to step in place without hope or ambition?... One of the legitimate questions [that must be asked] about Hamas in this situation is: Why does the movement in Gaza delay in presenting an initiative or proposing a method to extricate it from the morass and to [refute] the accusation made by the public, [namely] that will [never] give up power or share it [with other political forces]?...

"Hamas has been in politics and in power for over 16 years, and the people of Gaza continue to complain: Why has political life [in Gaza] stopped and why are there no new parties and no elections to the municipalities, the professional unions or even the student [unions]?... The condition of the tens of thousands of university graduates in the last 15 years proves that democracy is just a slogan from the days of our forefathers… Does this [young] generation not have the right to live in dignity, take part in democratic action and witness true [political] competition that plays a role in shaping its country and in determining its destiny? Does this generation have to accept the vision of the factions in order to live [in peace], even if this means living in political hypocrisy and without human dignity?... 

"Sixteen years after Hamas came to power, during which it steadfastly weathered every kind of war and Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip, as well as international plots and regional conspiracies, there are three questions that can no longer be avoided or ignored and which the movement's leadership must answer, [namely]… Where are we headed? What is the next stop [in our journey]? And is there a way out?...

"[Furthermore,] we must start tackling four challenges that have been forced upon us, in order to initiate national action to pave the way to a better future for the Gaza Strip and for our national enterprise in general… [These challenges] are:

"1. Holding municipal elections. Nothing prevents Hamas from holding such elections, like the ones that were held in the West Bank [in 2021-2022].[3] In fact, our need for them here may be greater, since the Gaza Strip is ruled by Hamas, which causes the West, and especially many European countries, to be apprehensive about providing humanitarian aid and vital gear to the [Gaza] Strip municipalities… Local elections will be an intelligent way to neutralize these excuses and allow the [Gaza] Strip to become part of the international community… If they take place, they will form a national collective that will represent all the [Gazan] Palestinians, and this collective will bear full responsibility [for Gaza's affairs], not just Hamas alone.

"2. Participation in government. After 16 years in which Hamas has ruled the Strip [by itself], it is time for [other] partners in the homeland to join the government… National figures from [various] parties, or even technocrats, should be elected to the Government Action Committee [i.e., the Hamas government]. [Candidates] should be selected based on criteria of ability, professionalism and national partnership.

"3. Elections to the student unions. Nothing prevents holding elections in the [academic] institutions and universities… that can serve as a model for general nation-wide elections. I hope that no element will prevent the holding of these elections and that all the elements in the Palestinian universities in Gaza will [start] preparing for them.

"4. Enabling party politics. The main goal behind this is to vitalize the political scene and create an opportunity for the appearance of [new] forces and leaders… Many countries prioritize political development and the participation of young people in elections and in political action, since this is an important part of the peaceful transition of power and of attaining security and stability.

"In short, municipal elections in the Gaza Strip are a pressing need and there is no reason to put them off. They are not being imposed on the Hamas movement, they are something the movement needs in order to ease its burden and find some kind of partnership in managing the national and public affairs [of the Gaza Strip]. I hope that, by the end of the year, a firm decision will be taken to hold municipal elections…"[4]


[1] See e.g. MEMRI reports: Inquiry & Analysis No. 1349 - After A Decade Of Hamas Rule In Gaza, Movement Officials And Former Officials Call For Self-Scrutiny Within It – October 4, 2017; Special Dispatch No. 7964 - Hamas Members, Supporters Criticize Its Suppression Of Economic And Social Protests In Gaza – March 26, 2019. It should be noted that, in 2016, Hamas issued a statement stressing that Ahmad Yousuf speaks for himself alone and that his opinions do not in any way reflect the positions of the Hamas institutions of leadership (, Septepber 17, 2016).

[2] Al-Quds (East Jerusalem),l July 26, 2023.

[3] The Palestinian Authority held two rounds of municipal elections in the West Bank: in December 2021 and in March 2022 (, December 11, 2021, March 27, 2022). Hamas did not allow the municipal elections to be held in Gaza, demanding that they be held as part of general PA elections. See e.g., an announcement by Hamas official Zakaria Abu Mu'ammar on this:, September 23, 2021.

[4] It is worth noting that Ahmad Yousuf did not stress the issue of the reconciliation with Fatah in this article, or the issue of holding general elections in the Palestinian Authority. 

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