The leadership of Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party has reached an internal decision to defer the Palestinian Authority’s parliamentary elections scheduled for next month, Palestinian officials have told Haaretz.
All of the Palestinian factions plan to meet later this week to discuss the issue and make an official decision on the elections, currently slated to take place May 22.
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The official argument made in support of deferring the election is Israel’s opposition to voting in East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed in 1967 and over which the Palestinian Authority does not have jurisdiction.
The Israeli government has not officially said whether it would permit polling stations to be established there, but Palestinian political sources say Abbas is interested in the postponement due to concern that his Fatah party would not secure the electoral victory that it is seeking.
In an effort to pressure Israel to succumb to his request, President Abbas met Wednesday with European Union Representative to West Bank and Gaza Strip, Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff, in Ramallah.
Speaking on Monday in Ramallah at a meeting of the Fatah party’s central committee, Abbas reiterated that the election for parliament would not proceed unless it could also be held in East Jerusalem.
Abbas’ spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said Tuesday night that the Palestinian leadership would make the decision this week and that the PA was continuing to urge Israel to permit voting in East Jerusalem – in addition to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In a radio interview with the Voice of Palestine, Abu Rudeineh said that Israel is currently opposed to the possibility of the European Union sending monitors to oversee the conduct of the vote in East Jerusalem.
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Abbas announced earlier this year that Palestinians will head to the polls for the first elections in more than a decade. Parliamentary elections were scheduled for May and presidential elections are still set for July.
A group of 23 parties running in the elections have urged Palestinian Authority officials to hold the election amid Israel's opposition.
Though Parliament members and presidents are voted in for four-year terms, this year’s vote would be the first parliamentary elections in 14 years and first presidential ones in 15.
The Palestinian Central Elections Committee has announced that 25 rosters for the election have been submitted so far.