Lawyers Seek International Observers for Jerusalem Poll

A group of lawyers who are cooperating with Arcadi Gaydamak's municipal election campaign and who represent Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem are requesting the presence of international observers to monitor voting in the capital next week. The group has submitted a request to the French Consulate in Jerusalem and to various nongovernmental organizations.

The request comes in the wake of a decision by the Interior Ministry and the Jerusalem municipality not to have polling stations beyond the separation fence.

The decision will make it difficult, but by no means impossible, for about 70,000 eligible voters in East Jerusalem to cast their ballots. These residents will have to pass through roadblocks in order to vote within the Old City. In some cases members of the same family will have to go to different polling places to vote.

The difficulty is expected to affect mainly Gaydamak, who is currently basing most of his campaign on East Jerusalem Palestinians who are eligible to vote. He is waging an intensive Arabic-language campaign that includes ads in the East Jerusalem newspaper Al Quds, which has spent considerable space on him and his candidacy in recent weeks.

According to sources at Gaydamak campaign headquarters, 30,000 Palestinians are likely to vote.