Palestinians Mull Delaying Elections – Again

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, center, speaks after laying a wreath at the tomb of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, inside the Mukataa government compound, in the the West Bank city of Ramallah as Palestinians commemorate the 14th anniversary of his death, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)
AP/Nasser Shiyoukhi

The Palestinian Authority is planning to delay next month’s elections — the first in 15 years — in a move that is likely to cause backlash from the international community.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh told a cabinet meeting Monday that the matter would be discussed on Thursday when representatives of all the main factions are scheduled to meet.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is likely to blame the delay on Israel, citing the Jewish state’s reluctance in allowing Arab residents in east Jerusalem to vote in the elections which he has called a “red line.”

The excuse boils down to some 6,000 Arab residents of east Jerusalem, who, according to the terms of the Oslo Accords, can only vote in the Palestinian elections through Israeli post offices, therefore requiring Israel’s permission. The rest of the city’s 150,000 Arab voters can vote without Israel’s permission. While those 6,000 votes are unlikely to impact the election in which 2.5 million eligible voters can cast ballots, their vote carries a lot of symbolic weight with the Palestinian leadership claiming that any elections without them is tantamount to recognizing Israel’s claims of ownership over Jerusalem.

However, in light of waning support of the aging president, the Jerusalem vote excuse is likely to be rebuffed by international elements.

Abbas’ ruling Fatah faction has been fraught with breakaways and scandals, while support for his political opponents — especially in the Hamas terror group — have gathered steam and are expected to do well in the vote.

According to an anonymous official who spoke to the Times of Israel, the PA has already informed Egypt and the international community of its intentions to delay the elections.

Abbas was elected in 2005 and his four-year term ended in 2009.

 

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