Palestinian Authority requests polling stations in East Jerusalem for national election

President Mahmoud Abbas has not scheduled date for vote

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas chairs a meeting of the central committee of the Fatah movement in the West Bank city of Ramallah on October 1, 2019. / AFP / ABBAS MOMANI
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

The Palestinian Authority on Tuesday said its national election, which is not yet scheduled, must include the Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem.

President Mahmoud Abbas, who leads the Fatah party and is based in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, told the UN General Assembly in September that he would issue a decree for national elections but gave no date.

It is expected that the elections, if they are given approval, will be in 2020.

Hamas supported the move, while PA officials put Israel on the spot by requesting it again allow polling stations in East Jerusalem to operate, as they had in the parliamentary ballot in 2006 and a presidential election a year earlier.

That vote resulted in a surprise win by Hamas, widening a rift that led to the group’s seizure of the Gaza Strip in 2007 and contributed to the long delay in further elections.

Mr Abbas told the authority’s Wafa news agency on Sunday that “legislative elections must be held in Jerusalem”.

But Israel forbids any official activity in the city by the authority, saying it breaches 1990s interim peace deals with the Palestinians.

An Israeli official said on Tuesday that Israel was aware of the Palestinians’ request but “has not yet taken a position on it”.

Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and annexed it in a move considered to be illegal by the international community.

Israel regards all of Jerusalem as its capital.

Palestinians seek East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The authority's 2.2 million registered voters are split among East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank.

Jerusalem is home to more than 300,000 Palestinians and 500,000 Israelis. The Palestinian Central Elections Commission says Jerusalem has 75,401 eligible Palestinian voters.

Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat, speaking to Reuters on Sunday, said Israeli refusing to allow voting in East Jerusalem “would be a major problem” and could stop the elections.

But a poll released Tuesday by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research, in the West Bank, showed about 56 per cent of Palestinians believe the elections should proceed even if East Jerusalem were excluded.