Jerusalem residents to vote in Palestinian elections by post with 'international consensus'

Jerusalem residents to vote in Palestinian elections by post with 'international consensus'
Concerns have spread among Palestinians that Israel might block this year’s polls in East Jerusalem after the US recognition of the city as Israel’s capital.
3 min read
12 March, 2021
Palestinian elections are scheduled for May 22 [Getty File Image]

Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem will vote through Israeli post offices in upcoming legislative elections, scheduled for May 22, in a move that is said to have received international consensus.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's adviser on international and foreign relations, Nabil Shaath, said any Israeli objection would be unacceptable. "We will face it by all means," Shaath said.

He added that the Palestinian Authority had "obtained an international consensus for holding elections in the city of Jerjusalem through post offices," but did not provide additional details on where the backing had come from.

It is unclear whether international bodies such as the UN have signalled their support.

Concerns have spread among Palestinians that Israel might block polls in East Jerusalem following the US recognition of the city as Israel’s capital in 2017 and amid preparations for Israeli elections due to be held March 22.

Palestinians in the occupied territories will this year head to the polls to elect a new parliament and president for the first time since 2006.

Legislative polls will be held in May, while the presidential election is set for July.

Prior to the 2006 Palestinian elections, Israeli officials tried to obstruct voting in East Jerusalem, which was illegally annexed by Israel in 1967 and is under Israeli civil and military control.

Israeli police also arrested campaigners for Hamas and closed at least three Hamas election offices in East Jerusalem during the campaign.

Unofficial estimates indicate that about 340,000 Palestinians live in occupied Jerusalem.

Israel's previous agreements with the Palestinian Authority stipulate that voting in East Jerusalem will take place at the Israel Postal Authority's post offices.

Read also: Fatah kicks out senior member Nasser al-Kidwa ahead of Palestinian elections

The upcoming election, however, is the first vote since former President Donald Trump announced US recognition of the whole of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Israel refuses to recognize Palestinian rights in the Holy City, but it has not yet clarified its position on the upcoming vote.

"There is no problem with [the voting mechanism]… and there is no new objection from Israel to it," Nabil Shaath said.

"It is the right of Jerusalemites to run for and vote in accordance with international law," he added.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh has previously said that his government will formally ask Israel not interfere with the elections in East Jerusalem.

The PA will also ask the European Union to send observers to monitor the elections, Shtayyeh added.

Palestinians residing in East Jerusalem took part in previous Palestinian elections by casting their votes in six Israeli postal centres in the city. The votes were then sent by mail to the Palestinian Central Elections Commission.

Abbas has repeatedly said that the Palestinian elections will not be held if Palestinians in Jerusalem are not allowed to take part.

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