EU disappointed with Palestinian elections postponed | Free press

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Ramallah / Tel Aviv (dpa) – The European Union has reacted with great disappointment to the postponement of the first elections in the Palestinian territories for more than 15 years.

Foreign Representative Josep Borrell said the EU has consistently expressed support for credible, inclusive and transparent elections for all Palestinians. He demanded that a new election date be set immediately.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had announced the postponement of the vote for May 22 on Friday evening. For this, he led the conflict over Jerusalem. The 85-year-old did not set a new date. It was agreed to postpone the elections until the participation of the people in the eastern part of the city was assured. Islamist Hamas – the second largest Palestinian group after Abbas’s more moderate Fatah – criticized the decision. Together with other groups, she wants to protest against the shift in the Gaza Strip.

There had been speculation about postponement over the Jerusalem issue for days. The status of the city is one of the central points of contention in the Middle East conflict. Israel claims Jerusalem as “the eternal and indivisible capital” for itself. The Palestinians, for their part, are holding on to their claim to East Jerusalem as their capital.

Experts had warned of great frustration among Palestinians if delayed. Due to the large number of young people and the previous elections long ago, about half of the approximately 2.5 million eligible voters could have voted for the first time. In surveys, two-thirds of those surveyed recently indicated that they were dissatisfied with Abbas.

Some observers saw the dispute over East Jerusalem as an excuse. They suspect that the motive is, among other things, concerns of Abbas and those around him about a possible defeat and the deep split in Fatah. The previous presidential elections took place in 2005, the parliamentary elections in 2006.

The Palestinians had pushed for Israel to agree to vote in the eastern part of the city. However, Israel did not respond. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem only emphasized that Israel did not want to interfere in or prevent the elections. Many in Israel were concerned about the possible strengthening of Hamas in the parliamentary elections. The ruling group in the Gaza Strip is classified by Israel and the EU as a terrorist organization. Recently, however, they saw polls behind Fatah.

From a legal standpoint, Israel’s permission to vote in the Arab-influenced eastern part of Jerusalem is unnecessary. In fact, permission is absolutely necessary as Israel controls the east of the city. Israeli police have recently taken repeated action against electoral activities there.

The peace treaties between Israel and Palestinians stipulate that Palestinian residents of Jerusalem can vote in post offices. According to Palestinian figures, these have a capacity of up to 6,300 voters. It is not mandatory for the branches to be used. The approximately 150,000 voting voters were also able to vote in suburbs. However, the Palestinian Authority (PA) insists that voting be done in the post offices as well. In 2006, Israel enabled the vote in East Jerusalem.

After the fourth election in two years, Israel is in political crisis, it is uncertain whether there will be a government. The peace process with the Palestinians played virtually no role in the election campaign and now also in the government-building phase.

The vote in the Palestinian Territories was intended as part of the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation effort. An agreement, in turn, should pave the way for new talks with Israel on a two-state solution.