UN calls for new Palestinian election date amid anger over postponement
The United Nations has urged Palestinian authorities to set a new date for the elections originally scheduled for the end of May, following President Mahmoud Abbas’ announcement on Friday that they would be postponed.
Protests broke out in Ramallah to demand that the legislative and presidential polls - called for May 22 and July 31 respectively – go ahead.
Israel, which occupied East Jerusalem at the end of the 1967 War, has so far not given any guarantees that it will not oppose voting and campaigning.
“Facing this difficult situation, we decided to postpone the date of holding legislative elections until the participation of Jerusalem and its people is guaranteed”, Abbas said on Palestinian television.
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, said that he understood the “disappointment of the many Palestinians,” who have gone nearly 16 years without being able to cast their vote.
Read also: Palestinians protest after Abbas postpones long-overdue elections
Wennesland called on Palestinians “to continue on the democratic path” and noted the “widespread international support” for transparent and inclusive elections throughout the Palestinian territories, including in East Jerusalem.
He said that allowing the vote to go ahead would give “legitimacy and credibility” to Palestinian institutions and help re-establish Palestinian national unity.
“This will also set the path toward meaningful negotiations to end the occupation and realise a two-State solution based on UN resolutions, international law and previous agreements”, the UN official added.
He called on Abbas to set a new and timely date for elections in order to reassure the Palestinian people that “their voices will be heard”. Wennesland also stressed that all parties should show restraint and refrain from violence, in order to “create the conditions for a resumption of the electoral process”.
The last Palestine-wide ballot in 2006 saw Islamist group Hamas gain control over the Gaza Strip, while Abbas’ Fatah party won a majority in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.