Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday said elections will be postponed until there is a guarantee that voting can take place in occupied East Jerusalem, further delaying polls in a country that last voted in 2006.
Addressing a meeting of Palestinian factions, Abbas said he had urged the international community to push Israel to allow campaigning and voting in east Jerusalem, an area annexed by the Jewish state in 1967 which Palestinians claim as their future capital.
Abbas delays first Palestinian elections in 15 years, triggering protests https://t.co/riHs8mG9SR
— Joe Catron (@jncatron) April 30, 2021
But Abbas said the vote could not go ahead because Israel had provided no assurances regarding Jerusalem ahead of the legislative and presidential polls – called for May 22 and July 31 respectively.
“We decided to postpone the election until there is a guarantee on Jerusalem,” the 85-year-old Palestinian leader said.
Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and blockaded Gaza Strip have voiced hope that elections after a 15-year wait could help repair their fractured political system.
Palestinian leader says elections can only happen if Israel allows Palestinians to vote in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem https://t.co/iaM7MZgBTN
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) April 29, 2021
The polls were called following an agreement between Abbas’s secular Fatah movement, which controls the West Bank and its long-standing rival Hamas, which runs the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip.
Hamas said Wednesday that it would reject “any attempt to postpone the elections”.
A delay risks inflaming tensions in the politically fractured Palestinian society and protesters in Ramallah swiftly denounced Abbas’s move.
The Biden administration and Israeli officials agreed this week to coordinate on countering Iranian drones and missiles that have proliferated across the Middle East in recent years. https://t.co/DPNp2a2A3A via @JM_Szuba
— Al-Monitor (@AlMonitor) April 30, 2021
“We have an entire generation of young people that doesn’t know what elections mean,” protester Tariq Khudairi told AFP.
“This generation has the right to elect its leaders,” he said.
Abbas critics have charged that he would use the Jerusalem issue to buy time as Fatah’s prospects have been threatened by splinter factions.
Palestine’s impossible democracy dilemma https://t.co/BCn2NyIcSH
— Joe Catron (@jncatron) March 9, 2021
Hamas was seen as better organized than Fatah and well placed to gain ground in the West Bank.
Abbas also has faced challenges from Fatah splinter factions, including one led by Nasser al-Kidwa, a nephew of iconic Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, and another by a powerful, exiled former Fatah security chief, Mohammed Dahlan.
Featured image: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. (Photo: via Wikimedia Commons)
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