PA asks Israel to include East Jerusalem in elections
"We have officially asked Israel to allow East Jerusalem residents to participate in legislative and presidential elections, in accordance with the agreement signed between the PLO and Israel in the years 1996 and 2006," tweeted Hussain Al-Shaykh, head of the General Authority of Civil Affairs in Jerusalem.
Israeli officials have now said that the request will go to the security cabinet, according to Haaretz.
Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Mohammad Shtayyeh, called on the international community to pressure Israel to allow elections in Jerusalem.
In a meeting with Stephanie Al-Qaq, director, Middle East and North Africa at the British Foreign Office, in Ramallah Shtayyeh stated that elections in Jerusalem were "a political and national priority".
Dismissing them, Shtayyeh emphasised, would be tantamount to "removing Jerusalem from Palestine".
Earlier on Monday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that the various Palestinian factions, including Hamas, had agreed to holding elections.
He added that one step remained before he could issue the presidential go-ahead: the participation of residents of East Jerusalem.
The Palestinian Authority and Hamas have called for elections on numerous occasions in recent years. Yet plans had been hampered by lingering distrust between the two factions in the West Bank and Gaza, respectively.
Yet Abbas' call for a general election in the Cccupied Territories at the United Nations' General Assembly last year signalled the start of iniative to get elections underway.
Hussam Aldajani, a Gaza-based analyst, told The New Arab’s Arabic-language sister site that the PA’s elections in Jerusalem are viewed by Israel with suspicion.
This is tied to Israel's fears of what the elections could bring about: the unification of the Palestinian Authority's political system and the consolidation and revival of Palestinian resistance within the body of the authority.
Aldajani believes that the PA must not submit to Israel’s refusal, leveraging its diplomatic pressures to secure approval, considering the various Palestinian factions remain staunchly opposed to Jerusalem’s non-participation.
Nonetheless, in spite of international pressures, such those coming EU officials and US democrats, some still doubt Israel will concede.
Israel, which appears poised to go to another round of national elections in March following two inconclusive elections in a year, has cracked down on PA activity in Jerusalem in the past few years.
This is in light of the crackdown against PA institutions across Jerusalem, such as the repeated arrests of the Governor of the city, Adnan Ghayth and closure of Palestine’s national TV station.
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