Abbas: Elections in eastern Jerusalem - or no elections at all

PA chairman says issuing a presidential decree for holding elections is dependent on whether they could be held also in eastern Jerusalem.

Elad Benari ,

Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas
Reuters

Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday that issuing a presidential decree for holding elections is dependent on whether they could be held also in eastern Jerusalem.

Abbas, who was quoted by the Xinhua news agency, made the remarks during his participation at a Christmas dinner at the Franciscan Monastery in the city of Bethlehem.

"The Palestinian factions agreed on what we agree with, but one very important obstacle remained, namely, the holding of the elections in East Jerusalem," Abbas was quoted as having said.

The PA chairman underscored that holding the legislative and presidential elections aims "to restore democracy," adding that "We cannot remain all this time without elections and without democracy."

"We believe in democracy and believe in the liberation of Palestine soon," he added.

Abbas recently renewed a pledge to hold fresh parliamentary elections in the PA, which have not been held since 2006 when Hamas won an overwhelming majority.

Later, the PA chairman made clear that the elections will not take place if Israel does not allow Palestinian Arabs living in eastern Jerusalem to vote.

Hussein Al-Sheikh, the PA “minister of general authority of civil affairs”, subsequently said the PA had sent an official request to Israel, asking it to allow the Palestinian residents of eastern Jerusalem to take part in the upcoming Palestinian parliamentary and presidential elections.

PA cabinet leader Mohammad Shtayyeh said last week the PA is awaiting the Israeli response to its request.

Abbas' term as PA chairman was meant to expire in 2009, but he has remained in office in the absence of elections.

His Fatah faction declared last month that the 84-year-old will be its “sole candidate” in the election.




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