Palestinian Authority seeks intl. pressure on Israel to allow vote in Jerusalem

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The Palestinian Authority is seeking more international pressure on Israel to allow legislative elections – first elections in 15 years, in the occupied East Jerusalem.

The Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership will hold a meeting on Thursday to adopt a unified position on the elections, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, told the Voice of Palestine radio station on Tuesday.

In order to arrive at a clear picture of the situation and come up with a final decision, Abbas will thoroughly examine the viewpoints of all Palestinian parties participating in the meeting, the spokesman said.

Abu Rudeineh explained that Israeli authorities have so far refused to agree to European observers monitoring the upcoming Palestinian elections and that the European Union is yet to receive approval.

The official called for international help to remove the hurdles erected by the Israeli regime to undermine the Palestinian polls, particularly in East Jerusalem.

Abu Rudeineh reiterated the Palestinian stance that there will be no elections without al-Quds.

He noted that Palestinian youth will stand up firmly against acts of aggression by Israeli troops and extremist settlers, and are steadfast in their attempts to reaffirm the Arab and Muslim identity of Jerusalem and prevent the sacrilege of the city’s holy sites.

Abu Rudeineh underscored that the ongoing Jerusalem uprising demonstrated the Palestinians’ determination to uphold their right to hold elections in the occupied city.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh said the Israeli regime had officially informed the Palestinian Authority that its position on elections in East Jerusalem “remains negative.”

Palestinian legislative elections are scheduled for May 22 and Hamas is expected to win a landslide victory, as it did in 2006 Israeli authorities have made many efforts to either cancel or postpone the polls.

Israeli forces have escalated an arrest campaign targeting key Hamas figures in the West Bank in recent months, detaining Mustafa al-Shanar, Adnan Asfour, Khalid al-Hajj, Omar al-Hanbali, Jamal al-Tawil, and Khatam al-Qafisheh among others.

Fuad al-Khuffash, a Palestinian human rights researcher and expert on prisoners’ affairs, said the arrest of Hamas members and supporters in the run-up to the vote was an attempt to harm the faction’s electoral chances.

“Prior to the 2006 elections, Israel arrested more than 560 leaders and members of Hamas,” he recalled.

Khuffash said what Israel means by widespread detentions is to “empty the arena of influential figures” who can affect the vote results and to limit Hamas’s choice of candidates.

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