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The New Arab Staff

Palestinians begin registering for election, but Jerusalem's fate remains uncertain

Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza will begin registering to vote [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 February, 2021

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Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip have started to register to vote.
The Palestinian Election Commission has started the registration process for upcoming elections in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, but East Jerusalem's role in the vote is still unknown.

The head of the electoral committee, Hanna Nasir, called for all Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip to register to vote.

Nasir said the committee will provide field teams for all governorates of the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip.

The 600-strong team will be equipped with electronic tablets to help citizens register their details.

Palestinians can also register to vote through the commission's website and 80 registration centres scattered across schools.

The head of the Elections Commission said that around 2.4 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza had registered to vote, constituting 85 percent of the number of citizens eligible to cast their ballots, according to the data of the Central Statistical Organisation.

The field registration process will continue until Tuesday evening.

Jerusalem shadowed out?

Concerns have been growing that Israel might hinder the vote in occupied East Jerusalem, which it has illegally occupied since 1967.

The Oslo agreement of 1995 divided the occupied West Bank into three zones: Area A, Area B and Area C.

Area A is under the administrative and security control of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Area B's administration is controlled by the PA, with Israel controlling security. Area C is under full administrative and security control of Israel.

Read also: Imprisoned Fatah politician Marwan Barghouti to run for Palestinian presidency

Much of East Jerusalem falls under Area C, which means for elections to be held in the occupied city Israel must first grant Palestinians permission.

Israel has not given approval for Palestinians in the east of the city to vote, despite requests from the PA.

Around 340,000 Palestinians are estimated to be living in the occupied city, according to unofficial Palestinian estimates.

Islamic Jihad refusing to join

The fringe Islamic Jihad movement announced on Tuesday that it will not participate in the elections due to its boycott of the Oslo Agreement.

The upcoming polls are being held in accordance with this agreement, signed between the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Israel signed in 1993 and 1995.

In a statement after the main Palestinian factions began a national dialogue Monday in the Egyptian capital Cairo to prepare for the elections, Islamic Jihad said the Oslo Agreement undermines the rights of the Palestinian people.

Last month, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed a decree setting legislative elections for 22 May with a presidential vote on 31 July.

These will be the first Palestinian polls in 15 years.

The Palestinian polls have been scheduled amid warming ties between Abbas's Fatah party, with controls the PA, and their long-standing rivals Hamas, the Islamist that hold power in Gaza.

The 2005 Palestinian presidential vote saw Abbas elected with 62 percent, replacing the late Yasser Arafat.

In the last Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006, Hamas won an unexpected landslide.

The polls resulted in a brief unity government but it soon collapsed and in 2007, bloody clashes erupted in the Gaza Strip between the two principal Palestinian factions, with Hamas ultimately seizing control of Gaza.

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