Israel Detains Jerusalem Activists Ahead of Palestinian Elections

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חיילי מג"ב בגדה, בדצמבר
חיילי מג"ב בגדה, בדצמברCredit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN / REUTERS

Police arrested three Palestinian activists in East Jerusalem who were planning to hold a news conference ahead of the election for the Palestinian Authority’s legislative assembly, scheduled for May.

Ashraf al-Awar and Naser Kos, who are Fatah candidates, and Ratiba al-Natshe, a candidate from the Fida (Palestinian Democratic Union) part, along with others held a rally on Salah-al-Din Street in East Jerusalem, after which they marched toward the St. George Hotel to hold a press conference. They were planning to stress the importance of holding the election in Jerusalem and were going to say that the election for the legislative assembly should not be held if it didn’t include East Jerusalem and all its neighborhoods.

So far, Israel has not officially responded to the Palestinian demand to include East Jerusalem in the election, as was the case in the last election in 2005.

This issue has been gathering steam in internal Palestinian discussions, and all factions are emphasizing that by excluding Jerusalem they would be conceding the city’s status as the capital of the Palestinian people.

Some in Fatah are calling for postponing the election if Israel persists in its opposition. Others say that this is a cover for the real reason for postponement, which is a concern that Fatah will lose the election in the West Bank.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has decreed what would be the first Palestinian legislative elections in 15 years to take place on May 22, followed by presidential polls in July.

On Friday, hundreds of left-wing Israeli activists and Palestinian residents demonstrated in Sheikh Jarrah in protest against the entry of Jewish settlers into the neighborhood and the eviction of Palestinian families from their homes. Last week, lawmaker Ofer Cassif was attacked by police officers during a protest rally there. This week’s large gathering was in response to the attack.

On Friday morning, the police arrested a young man from Beit Hanina following a Tik Tok video that showed him hitting an ultra-Orthodox man in the face on Jerusalem’s light rail train. The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court extended the man’s detention by four days.

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