Abbas Demands Jerusalem Vote in Possible Palestinian Elections
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is conditioning the first elections in over a decade on Israel’s agreement to allow residents of eastern Jerusalem to participate in the vote. Traditionally, the Jewish state has forbidden any official PA activity in eastern Jerusalem, which Palestinians claim as the capital of a future state of their own although Israel annexed it after its capture from Jordan in the 1967 war. Israel did, however, permit Palestinians in the contested territory to cast ballots for Palestinian presidential and parliamentary elections in 2005 and 2006, respectively. An Israeli official on Tuesday acknowledged that a formal request had been forwarded by the PA but stressed that the government “has not yet taken a position on it.” According to the Palestinian Central Elections Committee, there are 2.1 million registered voters across the PA-administered West Bank and Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, in addition to just over 75,000 in Jerusalem, where about 300,000 Palestinians reside. Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat earlier this week warned that Israel’s refusal to allow voting in Jerusalem “would be a major problem” that could torpedo the proposed elections, for which no date has been set.