Egyptian officials: Palestinians plan to cancel elections | Election News

An Egyptian diplomat and intelligence official said the decision would be announced at a meeting of Palestinian factions on Thursday.

Egyptian officials said the Palestinian Authority plans to cancel its first elections in 15 years, citing Israel’s refusal to allow voting in occupied East Jerusalem.

The decision effectively grants Israel a veto over the holding of elections, although President Mahmoud Abbas could also benefit from the annulment of the vote, in which his fractured Fatah party is expected to lose power and influence in favor of the government. Hamas, the group ruling the Gaza Strip.

An Egyptian diplomat and intelligence official – who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss closed-door talks in Cairo – said they had been briefed on the decision, which will be announced at a meeting of Palestinian factions on Thursday.

They said Egypt was in talks with Israel to reach a compromise allowing the vote, but those efforts have so far failed.

The intelligence official said Hamas wanted the elections to take place, but no faction wanted to proceed without guarantees from the international community that the vote would take place in occupied East Jerusalem.

The official said the factions were instead discussing forming a unity government that would include Hamas.

The Palestinian Election Commission said 6,000 voters in East Jerusalem would have to submit their ballots through Israeli post offices in accordance with past agreements, while the remaining 150,000 could vote with or without Israeli permission.

The small number of voters who need Israeli clearance is unlikely to have a decisive impact on the vote, but their participation is seen as symbolically important in sustaining Palestinian claims to East Jerusalem.

Israel did not say whether it would allow them to vote.

They also provide a pretext for Abbas to annul a parliamentary election which his Fatah movement is gravely set to lose. Fatah split into three rival lists, paving the way for Hamas to emerge as the largest party in parliament.

Israeli police arrest Palestinian in Jerusalem’s Old City during protests [Ammar Awad/Reuters]

‘Death to the Arabs’

Israel captured East Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza, in the 1967 war. The Palestinians want the three territories for their future state and see East Jerusalem as their capital.

Israel annexed the eastern sector of the city in an internationally unrecognized move. He considers all of Jerusalem to be his capital and forbids the Palestinian Authority to operate there.

The fate of the city has been one of the thorniest issues in the peace process, which ended more than ten years ago.

Tensions erupted in Jerusalem in recent days after the arrival of Israeli far-right groups after a march in which they harassed Palestinians and chanted: “Death to the Arabs”.

Hundreds of Palestinians have been injured and dozens more arrested in days of violence.

The barricade in the area near the Damascus Gate in East Jerusalem’s walled Old City – a popular gathering place for Palestinians during the holy month of Ramadan – was also partly responsible for the nights of tension.

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