Palestine Delays Elections

Palestine Delays Elections

President Mahmoud Abbas has announced that long-awaited Palestinian elections had been postponed until there was a guarantee voting could take place in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians accept as their future capital.

"We decided to postpone the election until there is a guarantee on Jerusalem and the right of our people in Jerusalem to exercise their democratic right," Abbas told a meeting of Palestinian leaders on Friday, announcing a further vote delay in a society which last cast ballots in 2006.

Before the postponement decision, Mahmoud Abbas said they would not hold elections with Jerusalem excluded from voting.

"We will not go for the elections without occupied Jerusalem, I want elections in Jerusalem as in the West Bank," Abbas said in a televised speech.

He said the Israeli side had not given an answer to the Palestinian request for holding the polls in Jerusalem "because there is no Israeli government to take such a decision."

Abbas added that the EU informed the Palestinian side of their disappointment over not getting an answer from the Israeli side.

Abbas revealed that the Israeli side threatened to detain Hanna Nasser, the chairman of the Central Elections Commission, if he went to Jerusalem to prepare for the elections.

Abbas, however, stressed that once Israel permits elections in Jerusalem, he will hold the polls within a week.

Prominent Hamas leader Jamal al Tawil told Anadolu Agency earlier that the group rejects the postponement of the Palestinian elections.

"The decision of delaying [the polls] – if it happens – is a serious decision. It is rejected and amounts to tampering with the Palestinian people's greater interests," he said.

Tawil added that holding the polls in Jerusalem is necessary and could be done "technically and politically," without Israeli permission.

Meanwhile, hundreds of angry Palestinians have converged in the central city of Ramallah to condemn the move of the Palestinian president.

Earlier this week, Al-Quds daily, known for being close to the Palestinian Authority, revealed that Abbas was under Arab and American pressure to delay the polls.

The daily said that the pressure came as there were fears that Hamas might win the elections.
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