PA to EU: Pressure Israel to permit elections in Jerusalem

PA cabinet leader to EU diplomats: Arabs in Jerusalem must participate in the elections, whether by voting or as candidates.

Elad Benari ,

Mohammad Shtayyeh
Mohammad Shtayyeh
Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash 90

Palestinian Authority (PA) cabinet leader Mohammad Shtayyeh on Wednesday called on Europe to pressure Israel to permit Palestinian Arabs in eastern Jerusalem to participate in the upcoming PA legislative elections scheduled for May 22 and the presidential elections planned for July 31, the WAFA news agency reports.

Shtayyeh told European Union (EU) diplomats he met with in Ramallah that Palestinian Arabs in Jerusalem must participate in the elections, whether by voting or as candidates, as per the agreements signed with Israel.

"Elections are the gateway to ending the division and renewing democracy," he was quoted as having said, stressing that elections are a public demand.

Shtayyeh further discussed the importance of sending international observers to monitor the electoral process and to overcome any Israeli obstacles.

EU Representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff said the EU has sent a formal request to Israel to allow the entry of international observers to monitor the elections, but added no response has so far been received.

PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas recently issued a decree ordering general elections in PA-assigned territories.

The decree states that legislative elections will take place on May 22. A “presidential” election will take place on July 31. It sets a deadline of August 31 for establishing the Palestinian National Council.

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

No PA elections have taken place since 2006 and similar initiatives in the past have failed to result in elections.

The PA has in the past used Israel’s refusal to permit Jerusalem Arabs to vote as an excuse not to hold elections at all.