General Framework:

The local elections were a window of hope for citizens’ political participation, especially in the absence of general elections. The general elections were held in two rounds for legislative elections and twice for presidential elections. In 1996, presidential and legislative elections were held simultaneously, while the presidential elections were held in 2005 alone after the death of the late President Yasser Arafat. The legislative elections were held in the following year in 2006. The last general elections cast a shadow over Palestinian political life, especially after the existing division. The principle of periodic elections became a contentious subject between the two dominant political parties: Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Executive Framework:

The Palestinian Association for Empowerment and Local Development - REFORM had observers who followed the launch of the second phase of the local elections. This was done by 100 trained observers who were distributed among most polling stations. The electoral process began on Saturday morning, March 26 2022 in 50 local bodies with the participation of 715,413 male and female votes through 315 centres containing 1,203 polling stations.

According to the observers’ data, the process started smoothly at seven o’clock in the morning, with the exception of some polling stations that were not readily causing a delay in the opening of these centres for some time, ranging from 10 minutes to more than an hour for some of them. The Elections Committee announced the extension of polling in the town of Taffouh in the Hebron governorate for an hour - until eight in the evening - due to the tragic accident that led to the death of 5 citizens. In addition, there was another extension to the polls in the town of Jaba until nine o'clock in the evening in order to compensate for the closing hours in the morning.

Electoral Environment:

The year 2021 marked the beginning of hope for the general elections. During the end of 2020, the elections witnessed important developments, represented by bilateral meetings between Fatah and Hamas led by Major General Jibril Rajoub, Secretary of the Central Committee of Fatah Movement, and Sheikh Saleh al-Arouri, Deputy Chairman of the Political Bureau of Hamas. This culminated in understandings related to the elections, which depended on what Dr. Hanna Nasser decided with Hamas at the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020. This procedure was stopped due to the Corona pandemic in which they agreed to hold successive elections starting with the legislative elections, followed by the presidential and the National Council. The meetings resulted in setting a date for the general secretaries of the factions, which was held at the beginning of September 2020. The consensus in the meeting represented a glimmer of hope for the Palestinian citizens.

President Mahmoud Abbas issued a presidential decree on 15/1/2021, calling on citizens to participate in the legislative elections on 22/5/2021, the presidential elections on 7/31/2021, and the completion of the rebuilding of the National Council on 30/8/2021.

Two dialogue meetings were held to overcome the unresolved obstacles in the meeting of the secretaries-general and in the bilateral meetings between Fatah and Hamas. The issues include holding the beginning of the electoral process and voter registration, while the other to be held in March to confirm the link between the three electoral stages.

During the month of March, voices rose from some political leaders who linked the legislative elections with Israel's approval of holding the elections in Jerusalem. Some of them went further by asking the Elections Committee to apply the same standards that are applied in the West Bank and Gaza to Jerusalem. Knowing that Jerusalem is subject to the Elections Protocol Agreement within the Declaration of Principles agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, it stipulates that those 6000 voters can vote inside the Israeli postal centres in the city of Jerusalem. This protocol was applied in the 1996 legislative and presidential elections, the 2005 presidential elections and the 2006 legislative elections. According to the National Authority, an official request was submitted to Israel to hold elections based on the previous agreement. Israel's response was negative. Accordingly, the authority decided to postpone the elections before the start of the electoral campaign. This was not in agreement with various political parties. However, the decision was taken by the Presidency of the National Authority and reached various parties. Available alternatives were not looked into such as holding elections in Jerusalem with national consensus and not being resigned to Israel’s refusal to hold them.

Postponing or canceling the legislative elections constituted frustration among the public. The objection was not only because of the loss of the dream of participating and restoring the Legislative Council spirit. It was also destroying the dream of unity that Palestinian citizens felt was very close for the first time since 2007.

2021 Local Elections:

The Council of Ministers announced that the elections will be held in two phases and the first set is on 11/12/2021. The elections would include 387 village councils and municipalities classified according to the Ministry of Local Government in order (C), including 11 councils in the Gaza Strip. The first quarter of 2022 will hold the second phase of local elections. The decision to split the elections was a shock to the public, especially after the cancellation of the legislative elections. The Council of Ministers justified its decision due to the pandemic and the Christian holidays that are in December. The civil institutions engaged in a movement as an attempt to pressure the government to make a decision to unify the two phases. However, the government insisted on its decision, which came unilaterally and without any political dialogue, especially with Hamas who controls the Gaza Strip. This was an opportunity to ensure that the local elections can heal the rift that arose after the legislative elections’ postponement. The decision was issued in the 9/6/2021 session approving 12/11/2021 for the first elections phase issued on 27/9/2021 after initiatives were released from the Central Elections Committee and the Independent Commission. This was done as a result of the pressure rising from civil society institutions. The second date was set to be on 3/26/2022.

Observations made during the nomination and voting phase:

Notes on the nomination stage

1.     Clearance

The Local Elections Law No. 10 of 2005 and its amendments stipulated the importance of the candidate having a clearance from the municipal services. Article (20) of the law was specified in item E. in favour of the Council.

The problem of acquittal, which constitutes one of the conditions for accepting the candidacy of individuals on the electoral lists, has been repeated. According to the law, the candidate is required to have paid service fees and taxes due on him or her to the local authority. As usual, a circular is issued by the Minister of Local Government to local bodies specifying the nature of fees due on the citizen demanding that it be facilitated for those wishing to run and obtain an acquittal. However, it has turned into a sword hanging over the necks of those who intend to run by members and the head of the local body. They often wish to run for office and are not required to resign before the candidacy process begins but they are able to submit their resignation on the last day of candidacy. This is what often occurs. In the second stage, the crisis of patents continues. Most of the bodies stipulated that the wife, for instance, obtains a clearance for her husband or her father even if she is considered a legal person with nothing in her name that obliges her to pay his fees. In order to prevent those wishing to run for candidacy from obtaining it, it was clear in each of the Nubani farms that the minister had to dismiss the business process committee and assign a director from the ministry to head the business management committee instead of the committee that rejected the minister’s decisions and abide by the law regarding the discharge of liability. The same applies to Qabatiya, whose president Egypt continued to pay even a part of the debts for the husband, father, brother or sister of the candidate despite the demands of the Central Elections Committee and the Ministry of Local Government. Delays were used in order to reach a consensus list, which was achieved in the end.

2.    Registering Lists 

More than one list is registered in 50 local authorities. One complete list is registered in 23 local authorities and no list has been registered in 28 local authorities. One local authority is registered with an incomplete list.

The Central Elections Committee received 267 electoral lists, 8 of which withdrew, and the Committee accepted the applications of 259 electoral lists. According to the classification of the lists' registration, 81 party lists and 178 independent lists were registered.

The number of candidates in all the accepted lists was (2,537), of whom (678) were women, representing 26.7% of the total number of candidates.

It is clear that candidates in the age group of less than 45 years old constitute 59% of the total number of candidates, and those aged between 46-55 years old account for 23%. Candidates over the age of 55 make up 18% of the total number of candidates.

3.      Combination menus 

It was expected that the parties, forces and factions would play a central role in the formation of the lists. Therefore, it was expected that the party lists would constitute the absolute majority of the lists. However, after the start of the nomination stage, it became clear that the parties were consulting the families that were more organized. It is reasonable to take independent registration due to the occupation conditions for Hamas and the Popular Front. What is striking, however, is the number of independent lists that were not fully adopted by an organization during the registration of the lists or electoral campaigning, but rather after the success of the list in the elections.

Notes were made on the registration of the lists, especially the members of the lists being arrested by the Israeli occupation forces. The head of the Al-Bireh list, Islam Al-Taweel, was arrested by the occupation and transferred to administrative detention in a blatant interference in the electoral process. A member of the Loyalty List for Khalil Abdel Karim Farrah was also arrested.

Election Campaigning:

Election campaigning began on Saturday 12/3/2022 and continued until 3/24/2022. Centre observers recorded a number of observations during the electoral campaign period:

1.     The continued absence of women in the list posters. Some lists continued to block pictures of women during the electoral campaign stage despite retraction from the first stage.

2.     Hate speech that was spread during the electoral campaign continuing to the list formation stage. This happened from discussions and attempts to influence what occurred during the list registration stage. There were claims that an electoral custom in Ramallah stipulates that the mayor of Ramallah must be from the original Christian families of Ramallah, not by those whom Ramallah embraced after the ’48 Nakba. Those with these opinions attempted to attack the lists that did not commit to a confession, accusing them indirectly of being against the right of return.

The electoral debate for the Al-Bireh municipal elections also witnessed an attempt to remove the candidate Osama al-Tibi, who heads an electoral list. This was done on the pretext that he is not from al-Bireh and that he must return to Nablus and run in it. There is believe that Al-Bireh belongs to its people. It was stated that since a citizen of Al-Bireh is not entitled to head the Lifta Association, for example, a citizen of Lifta is supposed to abstain from running in the Al-Bireh municipality. Some towns have also seen Facebook pages intending to attack a particular candidate or list under fake names.

3.     The campaigning methods for the electoral lists varied from using the local radio, web pages, social media, direct meetings, visits, posters and banners. Some of the publications of the published lists were intentionally torn down by supporters of competing lists.

Election Day:

The lists are supposed to remove the electoral campaigning before entering the electoral day. However, monitoring the election in the second phase on 3/26/2022 showed that most of the campaigning remained present, including sites close to the entrances to the polling stations. Campaigning includes having cars carry loudspeakers, banners and posters which continued to roam the sites even on election day.

Polling and Sorting:

Polling began on the morning of March 26, 2022, at seven o’clock in the morning, as scheduled, with some delay in the town of Jaba’ in Jerusalem, which was delayed due to a defect in the ballot papers. As a result of the tragic accident with the death of five citizens on the morning of the elections, the start of the voting process was delayed until nine o'clock. In one of the polling stations in Nablus, where citizens of the Samaritan sector vote, it was decided to delay the opening hours of the polling station so that voting can be done after the end of Saturday evening.

Other than these centres, the process of beginning the poll went smoothly on the morning of the polling day. Throughout the polling day, observers documented a number of violations that varied from one region to another. However, the following violations were recorded:

1.     Electoral campaigning continues in all locations in front of polling stations, whether through banners, distributing posters, advertising cards, or posters on cars. Other forms came through direct communication and urging voters to elect a specific list.

2.     The fifty regions did not commit to placing signs indicating the polling stations as stipulated in the Polling and Counting Procedures Manual.

3.     The presence of many security men in official and civilian clothes inside the polling stations, contrary to what was stated in the Polling and Counting Procedures Manual. The role of security men is entrusted with protecting the electoral process and are supposed to be present only at the entrance to the polling centre not inside the centre itself, unless they are summoned by a centre director.

4.     The performance of polling station crews varied from one centre to another. Attempts were made by some polling station personnel recorded in Ya'bad to influence the voter indirectly.

5.     The polling centre directors were not able to control the electoral process, especially with the voter leaving the polling station boundaries after casting his or her vote. The crowd dominated the vast majority of polling stations in Hebron, Jerusalem, Qalqilya, Tubas, Tulkarm and Jenin.

6.     During the morning hours, there was an almost complete absence of young voters. The situation changed in the afternoon hours but the percentage of young people's participation in the polls did not reflect their percentage of the registered voters in the targeted locations.

7.     Some polling stations witnessed altercations between electoral list agents and leading to tensions. This occurred in the town of Ithna in Hebron, in which one of the people used tear gas.

8.     Not all polling stations were suitable for people with special needs. Although the Central Elections Committee announced and confirmed that the centres are suitable for people with disabilities, some places are not suitable, such as the primary school in Dura in Hebron.

9.     This stage was characterized by the presence of most of the candidates on the electoral lists inside the polling stations and their continuous efforts to influence the voters coming to cast their votes.

10.  In the Salih School in Nablus, the director of the hall refused to count the ballot papers he received on the pretext that there were no agents, despite the observers' request.

11.  An attempt by some employees in Nablus to direct voters to elect the Azm List.

12.  The director of the polling centre at the Mostaqbal School in Ramallah refused to provide the agents and observers with the numbers of voters.

13.  A group of motorcyclists entered the yard of the Ramallah Girls School Centre and did electoral campaigning for the Sons of the City list. They were not arrested by the security at the polling station door.

14.  The observers in Tarqumiya documented the presence of a large crowd at the polling stations.

15.  There is no commitment to safety procedures in most polling stations.

16.  Observers documented overcrowding in a polling station at Ibn Khaldoun School in As-Samou. In addition, there was no response to the needs of the elderly.

17.  Observers documented improper treatment of voters at the polling station in Ibn Khaldoun School in Al Samou'.

18.  A stifling traffic crisis in front of most polling stations by the supporters of the lists, which hinders voters from reaching the polling stations.

19.  Observers have drawn attention to the presence of a number of voters claiming illiteracy, which was not true. Rather, they hand their affairs over to different electoral lists.

Closing of Polling Stations

Most of the polling stations closed at seven o’clock, except for the centres and locations where the Central Elections Committee decided to extend the polling due to the delay in the morning. This occurred in Jaba’ in Jerusalem and Tafouh in Hebron, in addition to the centre in which the Samaritans participate. It was ensured that all the voters inside the polling centre had cast their votes.


The counting process began after the polling centres were closed. The polling and counting centre staff adhered to the procedures stipulated in a guide to polling and counting procedures. No objections were recorded in the centres where the Palestinian Association for Empowerment and Local Development monitors – REFORM were present.


1.     In terms of law

It became clear that the law needs a comprehensive and not partial amendment, starting with the proportional electoral system and the closed list. Candidacy conditions must be passed through including the candidacy age and the percentage of women’s participation in local bodies. Issues such as social media and confronting hate speech through legal procedures are stipulated in the The Election Law and must be dealt with. In addition, it is important to discuss the issue of money and elections, especially since the current law lacks any regulator for the issue of financing electoral campaigns.

2.     At the level of procedures, the Central Elections Committee must ensure the strict application of the Procedures Manual for voting and counting, or not to change it.

3.     Follow up on the polling and counting crews, and always ensure that they are impartial without a party urging voters or directing them to elect a specific list.

4.     At the level of parties, making the decision either to participate as parties or to change the electoral system and provide the opportunity for individuals to participate.

5.     Regarding the approval of polling station crews from the same region and after testing it, the invitation is the direction of attracting polling station employees from neighbouring regions to control the participation process.

6.     Ensure the selection of polling stations based on the Central Elections Committee's adoption of facilitating the participation of the disabled without problems with the frequent presence of inappropriate centres.

7.     Searching for a mechanism to punish everyone who claims illiteracy by ascertaining who is registered as illiterate and verifying the truthfulness of the statement. If it is found that he or she is not honest, they shall be referred to the Public Prosecutor to take the legal requirement.

The Participation of REFORM’s Beneficiaries in the Nomination Process

During the candidacy process for the local elections in 2021, 18 beneficiaries of REFORM’s programmes were nominated through the lists that were nominated for the municipalities. Ten of them were able to obtain membership in the municipal councils after the end of the electoral competition stage. Eight were not fortunate to obtain membership in the municipal councils, but were active in electoral campaigning and addressed the public about municipal work from the participants' point of view. They stressed the importance of youth representation in decision-making positions.