Palestinians seek international support for Jerusalem elections

Palestinian Authority seeks international support to prevent Israel impeding Jerusalem elections
2 min read
30 March, 2021
With Israel failing to publicly confirm that Palestinians in East Jerusalem will be able to vote in this year's elections, Palestinian officials have been forced to resort to external support.
Ramallah has raised voting in East Jerusalem with the EU's representative to Palestine [AFP]
The Palestinian Authority has asked the European Union to use its influence to ensure Israel allows Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem to vote in the upcoming national legislative and presidential elections.

Earlier reports suggested that voters in East Jerusalem would cast their ballots at Israeli post offices, which would then mail them to Palestinian elections officials.

At the time, Nabil Shaath, international relations adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said that any Israeli protestations at this arrangement would be staunchly rejected.

With time before May’s legislative elections now running out, Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Riyad Malki used a meeting with the EU’s representative to the country, Sven Kuehn von Burgsdorff, to reiterate this point.

Read more: As diaspora Palestinians, our votes should count too

A report from the official Wafa news agency says that he also requested the bloc send international observers and offer all the necessary support to facilitate the elections’ smooth running.

This feeds into Ramallah’s PR strategy of highlighting to media outlets the international consensus it claims to have received for its use of the Israeli Postal Authority.

It is not clear, however, how real this support is, although it has been alleged that the European Union asked for an increase in the number of polling stations from six in 2006 to 18 this year. 

The Palestinian faction Fatah, which rules the West Bank, has also waded in. If true, this effectively amounts to an endorsement of the plan. 

According to the Arabic-language Arabi21 news site, Fatah spokesman Hussein Hamayel said that Tel Aviv had not responded to enquiries about East Jerusalem voters. This is, for Hamayel, “part of the clash with the occupation.”

“We said from the beginning that there would be obstacles placed in front of us by the occupation regarding holding the elections,” he told the outlet.

“We will not accept that these elections are a prelude to the consolidation of Israeli settlements… or of the American ‘deal of the century.’”

Meanwhile, Abd al-Ilah al-Atira, a member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, cautioned against holding elections if East Jerusalemites could not vote.

“We in Fatah have principles, and Jerusalem, for us, is the capital of the Palestinian state,” he said.

This echoes previous statements made by Abbas.

Israel routinely prevents Palestinian self-determination, and not just in elections.

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