Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Palestinian Leadership Mulls Canceling the Elections

Palestinian Leadership Mulls Canceling the Elections

Tuesday, 20 April, 2021 - 07:15
A voter registration station in the West Bank. (Wafa)

The Executive Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) confirmed during its meeting that elections could not be held without Jerusalem, according to a committee member, Ahmed Majdalani.

Majdalani confirmed that holding the elections was a Palestinian decision that had no regional or international ties, as the gateway to ending the division and renewing the structure of the Palestinian political system.

“Ignoring the official Palestinian request is a clear response that the Israeli government doesn’t want to allow the Palestinian elections in East Jerusalem,” said Majdalani, indicating that it is an explicit response that elections cannot be held.

Majdalani’s statement confirms the final position of the Palestinian leadership, meaning the elections due on May 22 will most likely not take place, given that Israel does not allow any Palestinian "sovereign" activity in Jerusalem.

The Palestinian leadership is expected to make a final decision regarding the general elections within a week.

Sources close to the matter told Asharq Al-Awsat that the PA had given European mediators a deadline within the next week to respond to resolve this matter.

The sources added that a proposal to open their European consulates as polling centers was rejected because it does not guarantee the right of Jerusalemites to run for elections or launch campaigns. It also violates the legal sovereign right of the Palestinians.

President Mahmoud Abbas asserted during the meeting of the PLO Executive Committee: “We are determined to hold the elections on scheduled in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.”

The Palestinian leadership called upon the international community to put pressure on Israel not to create obstacles in the face of Palestinian elections.

The Executive Committee called upon the UN, the EU, Russia, and China, to pressure Israel into allowing Palestinians to vote in Jerusalem and urged them not to impede the elections process in all the occupied Palestinian territories.

The Executive Committee condemned Israel for arresting candidates and preventing them from carrying out any electoral activity in Jerusalem.

On Saturday, Israel arrested three Palestinian candidates in Jerusalem, after it prevented a press conference for the elections.

Meanwhile, Hamas believes Fatah is using Jerusalem as a pretext to cancel the elections.

Hamas official Rafat Nassif said that holding the elections and renewing the legitimacy of Palestinian institutions was a national priority that ought not be conceded, stressing the importance of facilitating the elections in Jerusalem by the occupation.

Nassif asserted that the Palestinian political and national life will not return to stagnation, pending the approval of the occupation to hold the elections.

Fatah spokesman, Osama al-Qawasmi denounced Hamas's position saying it was shameful to claim Jerusalem was being used to postpone the elections, describing the city “as the place of agreement and unity, not disagreement.”

Qawasmi indicated that Fatah was looking for an opportunity to ensure the success of the elections and establish national unity and the rule of law, but not at the expense of the legal and political status of Jerusalem.

“It is not acceptable for Jerusalem to be a cause of internal discord in any way,” he stressed.

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