Palestinian Presidential and Parliamentary Elections in 2005 and 2006

By Kaitlin Jungles Post date: Mar 13, 2018


The National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the Carter Center (TCC) sent two delegations of 74 and 86 people to partner with the Palestinian Central Elections Committee (CEC) and monitor the Palestinian presidential and parliamentary elections in 2005 and 2006. After observing conditions of the political climate and logistics of the election process, they met with local leaders to discuss changes to implement in order to provide more free and fair elections. This project was met with success in the areas of freedom of movement, voter registration, and in some areas, political climate. Other areas, however, that still need improvement are conditions in all categories concerning East Jerusalem, communication to voters, and certain areas of political climate.

The lessons learned are as follows

1. Cooperation with Palestinian and Israeli officials is both possible and productive.
2. Prompt and clear communication between all administrative officials and organizations is absolutely necessary for improvement in
   democratic processes.
3. Despite extremism, democracy can progress and should still be kept alive even in small forms.


The end of the Arab-Israeli War in 1948, and the UN Partition plan caused the territory originally known as Palestine to be divided into two separate territories, Palestine and Israel.

Over the following years, Israel took control of more and more land, pushing the Palestinians into smaller areas of territory.

In 1967, Israel won the Six Day War and captured the Palestinian territories placing military occupancy in the areas of the West Bank and Gaza. Despite the disapproval and violation of international policies against military occupation, Israel now had control over the entire state. This, and the events leading up to it caused great tension to develop between Israel and Palestine.

However, in 1963 the Oslo Peace Accords allowed the newly developed Palestinian Authority to have control over the Gaza strip and the West Bank. These areas were allowed to establish government and vote in both Presidential and Parliamentary elections. However, two different parties controlled the areas, Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank.


Despite the efforts for peace, violence and backlash between Israel and Palestine continued on, with Israel pushing into Palestinian territory as much as they could. Tensions remain between Israel and Palestine; threatening the democratic process of elections for the Palestinians.

Initial observations in 2004, as well as mid project observations in 2005, by NDI and TCC ,showed several problems with the election process in the following areas:

Freedom of Movement – This is one of the more significant problems. It is needed for providing materials, training poll workers, campaigners to advocate their causes, and most importantly for Palestinians to vote. Israeli authorities have military occupation and curfews in place, preventing ease of movement between areas.
There is supposedly an agreement in place to allow freedom of movement for all actors during a 72-hour period during elections, but it had not been implemented as of late 2004.

Election Preparations – It is hard for the CEC to prepare for elections and distribute necessary materials due to military clashes, strict checkpoints, and road closures, with several reports of some areas receiving no materials at all. Confusion surrounding voter registration is also prevalent. The current voter registration system is good system according to NDI observations. However, the Palestinian Legislative Council requires voter registry to “complement’ a civil registry, causing confusion to voters and missing names from lists. Essentially, this only covers about 72% of eligible voters. IF a name does not appear on either list, no vote is granted.

Voting in Jerusalem – Due to the nature of borders and the stance of the Israeli government, the political status for Palestinians in Jerusalem voting in Palestinian elections is undefined. Previous attempts by the CEC to set up registration and voting systems have been unsuccessful. Voting registration offices were shut down by Israelis within 10 days, and actual voting boiled down to essentially absentee voting at just 5 post offices, making it impossible to service the 200,000 Palestinians living in Jerusalem at that time.

Voter Education, Communication, and Domestic Election Observations – Limited information about the new election systems and rules were distributed to voters. Information about freedom of movement was neither distributed, nor backed by officials to ensure implementation. Short election preparation times result in limits to voter education.

Election Environment – The participation of Hamas and their radical ideology threatens the openness and inclusivity of elections. In addition to this, the blatant presence of Israeli authorities surrounding all aspects of election processes is creating fear amongst Palestinians, causing voters to be scared to participate. There have also been reports of violence against CEC offices and campaigners that are too strong for police to extinguish.


The goals of the efforts established by NDI and TCC were part of a larger effort by NDI to promote democracy in Israel and Palestine. The purpose of this project was to “Demonstrate the international community’s continued interest in and support for the development of viable democratic institutions that will enable Palestinians to freely choose their leaders and representatives,” and “Provide Palestinians and the international community with an impartial and accurate assessment of the election process and political environment.”


This project was made possible by a grant from the USAID and is part of a larger project headed by NDI to comprehensively monitor Palestinian election processes.

The National Democratic Institute (NDI) is a non-profit organization that works to promote and strengthen democracy around the world.

The Carter Center (TCC) is an organization that partners with Emory University to mitigate conflicts, promote democracy and freedom, and advance healthcare.

The Palestinian Central Elections Committee (CEC) is independent electoral body based in the occupied territories, whose purpose is to train election officials, distribute materials, and cover logistical tasks of elections. It was established in 2002 and is internationally funded.



A few weeks prior to the first election, NDI and TCC conducted assessments of the pre-election political environment Dec 13-20, 2004.

The voter registration process and first round of local elections were observed in the West Bank on December 23, 2004 and the Gaza Strip on January 27, 2005.

To address the problems observed in the election process, NDI and TCC put together a 76-member delegation to monitor the 2005 Palestinian Presidential Election, and an 84-member delegation to monitor the 2006 Palestinian Parliamentary Elections. These teams were lead by former United States President Jimmy Carter, former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, former Albanian President, Rexhep Meidani, and former Spanish Foreign Minister, Ana Palacio, and included several leaders, former and current, and elected officials from several different countries.

Delegation members held meetings with presidential candidates, the chairman and representatives of the CEC, representatives of the media, civic leaders, representatives of the EU’s Election Observation Mission, and senior Israeli government officials, including the President, Prime Minister, and Foreign Minister.

Team members, along with the CEC monitored the 2005 elections, provided recommendations, and then again monitored the 2006 elections to see if there were improvements made.


Between the two elections in 2005 and 2006 several advances were made in addressing the initial problems TCC and NDI found in the Palestinian electoral process. By reporting the issues observed in both 2004 and 2005 to the leaders that the delegation met with, local partners were able to work on solutions to theses issues to implement in the 2006 elections.

Freedom of movement was drastically improved with significantly less issues crossing checkpoints. Israeli authorities were cooperative and allowed for easy passage at checkpoints both for CEC officials to distribute materials and voters to cast ballots.

There were improvements to the political atmosphere in many areas because Israeli security was not seen at voting stations. This allowed for eased anxiety at the polls.

After the observations of the 2005 elections, a new list was created that allowed for significant improvement with voter registration. This mitigated the problems with the previous voter registry and civil registry. There were no reported issues of major problems with the register on Election Day.

Despite the progress made in these areas, several issues showed little or no improvement.

Arrangements for voting in East Jerusalem were inadequate due to defects on the voter lists and incomplete registration in the 2005 elections. President Jimmy Carter, as part of the NDI delegation had to intervene after noticing the problem early on. A last minute solution was put in place that allowed voters to bring their own proof of registration and ID’s. Still, due to improper communication between officials and the public, there was difficulty in allowing the new procedure to take effect. This was not remedied in the 2006 elections.

Although there were areas that experienced significant improvement in political atmosphere, some voters in certain areas still felt threatened and there were reports of violence.

Recent Updates

After the closure of this project, Hamas gained control of Gaza and the West Bank, heightening security concerns of the Israeli government. This halted all progress made in the previous project.

Due to the problems with Hamas, Palestinian Presidential and Parliamentary elections stopped. The Israeli government wanted to ensure there would be no Hamas officials in office.

Municipal elections were eventually allowed again, but there is limited information reported on the conditions of these elections

East Jerusalem has essential no voting rights, even in municipal elections due to the ongoing border fight with the Israeli government.


Based on the results of the team sent by NDI and TCC, and in light of the updates on the political circumstances in the area, it is recommended that the CEC, in partnership with the Israeli government attempt to find the following solutions. These may be implemented in municipal elections, as well as presidential and parliamentary elections, should they be reinstated.

The CEC should work with all administration officials involved in the voting process to establish a concrete procedure for voter registration, polling locations, and elections. This will allow for more people to exercise their right, particularly in East Jerusalem

Although improvements have been made the CEC should continue to work with government officials to better inform all voters of election procedures, including registration, polling locations, freedom of movement policies and casting ballots.

Finally, the CEC should meet with the Israeli government to discuss the possibility of instating proper municipal elections for East Jerusalem, so they might actually vote for their representation, rather than have them appointed.


Lessons Learned

   1. Cooperation with Palestinian and Israeli officials is both possible and productive.
      When problems with the 2005 elections were communicated to the appropriate people, solutions were found and significant improvements
      were  made, particularly with the voter registry and freedom of movement. Further more, the political atmosphere around voting sites
      was improved because of this cooperation.
   2. Prompt and clear communication between all administrative officials and organizations is absolutely necessary for improvement
       in democratic processes.
      When good communication was present, improvements in significant issues were made. Where there was a lack of clear communication,
      such as in East Jerusalem, voters suffered the inability to exercise their rights.
   3. Despite extremism, democracy can progress and should still be kept alive even in small forms.
      Even though there are only municipal elections as of recent because of the ongoing situation with Hamas, they are still part of the right
      of Palestinians to vote. If these elections are treated with the correct procedures and process, it will allow for further progress in coming
      years when, hopefully, presidential and legislative elections are reinstated for Palestinians.