Palestinian Elections Delayed

The Palestinian elections have been delayed. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has postponed elections due to take place on May 22, blaming the refusal of the Israel government to allow Palestinians to vote in East Jerusalem.

“We have decided to postpone the election until the participation of our people in Jerusalem is guaranteed,” he said.

“As soon as Israel agrees” to let Palestinians vote in Jerusalem, “we’ll hold the election within a week,” Abbas told a meeting of political parties.

Palestinian elections without Jerusalem would be giving up the city

Deputy leader of Fatah Mahmoud al-Aloul said holding elections without Jerusalem would effectively mean giving up claims for the city to be the capital of a Palestinian state. “We won’t agree to any such thing,” he said. “It won’t be written in history books that we’ve given up on Jerusalem.”

No election without Jerusalem – Palestinian elections delayed

Hamas said it would hold Israel responsible. “The Jerusalem vote is a red line,” it said, “and no Palestinian should accept an election without Jerusalem, our eternal capital.” But the group said the vote should take place in Jerusalem even without Israel’s agreement.

The leader of the smaller Palestinian Initiative party, Mustafa Barghouti, also said: “Our opinion is that we should conduct elections in Jerusalem despite the Israeli decision and challenge the Israeli with this non-violent form of resistance.”

Plea for UK and Europe to help support Elections

Palestinian foreign minister Ri’ad Al-Maliki came to London and other European capitals last month to ask their governments to put pressure on Israel to prevent the need for Palestinian elections to be delayed. He was told by EU foreign policy head Josep Borrell that he had written to Israeli government three times, but had received no reply. UK Foreign Minister Dominic Raab told him he had met the Israeli ambassador and called for elections in East Jerusalem. 

In the 2006 Palestinian election the US President George Bush put pressure on the Israelis to allow at least some Palestinian Jerusalemites to vote and Israel finally agreed, although after the election they expelled some of the MPs that they had elected.

East Jerusalem has been annexed to Israel, but the great majority of Palestinians in Jereusalem have the status of residents, not citizens, so they can vote in municipal but not in national elections. In the last national election in 2006 some of them were able to vote in the main post office and others voted in polling stations outside the city. 

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