Shtayyeh: Israel must allow Jerusalem Arabs to participate in elections
The Palestinian Authority expects Israel to allow residents of east Jerusalem to participate in the Palestinian general elections later this year, PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said Monday.
The PA would file a formal request with Israel to permit east Jerusalem residents to participate in the elections, he said.
“Israel has said that it remains committed to agreements signed with the Palestinians,” Shtayyeh said, referring to a recent letter by Maj.-Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun, head of the Unit for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).
The letter was sent last November to Hussein al-Sheikh, head of the Palestinian General Authority of Civil Affairs, paving the way for the resumption of security and civil relations between the PA and Israel.
In the letter, Abu Rukun affirmed that Israel is still committed to all agreements with the Palestinians.
“One of the important provisions of the agreements is the participation of our people in Jerusalem in the elections,” Shtayyeh said in opening remarks at the weekly meeting of the Palestinian cabinet in Ramallah.
He expressed hope that the international community would intervene with Israel to allow east Jerusalem residents to take part in the elections, either by presenting their candidacy or casting their ballots.
The PA will also ask the European Union to send observers to monitor the elections, Shtayyeh added.
On Friday, PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced that the election for the parliament will take place on May 22, while the presidential election will be held on July 31.
Israel has in the past allowed east Jerusalem residents holding Israeli ID cards to participate in PA elections. However, only a small number of residents participated in the electoral process.
The elections would be called off if east Jerusalem residents are excluded, a senior PA official said Monday.
It was not enough to permit east Jerusalem residents to participate, but the elections should take place inside Arab neighborhoods that are under Israeli control and are within the boundaries of the Jerusalem Municipality, the official told The Jerusalem Post.
“The Palestinians of east Jerusalem should be allowed to vote in their villages and neighborhoods, and not in Ramallah and Bethlehem,” the official said. “We are confident that the new US administration and the European Union will force Israel to accept our demand.”
Shtayyeh said the upcoming elections were badly needed to end the dispute between the ruling Fatah faction and Hamas and also to bring democracy to the Palestinians.
“These elections are significant for strengthening our national enterprise and reformulating Palestinian national unity on democratic foundations,” he said.
Shtayyeh further expressed hope that the leaders of several Palestinian factions, expected to meet in Cairo at the beginning of next month, will reach agreement on ways of ensuring the success of the elections.