Palestinians postpone polls until Jerusalem voting guaranteed

RAMALLAH: Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas announced on Friday that elections are being postponed until Israel guarantees voting can take place in annexed east Jerusalem, further delaying polls in a society which last voted in 2006.

Addressing a meeting of Palestinian factions, Abbas said he has urged the international community to push Israel to allow campaigning and voting in east Jerusalem, an area annexed by the Jewish state in 1967 which Palestinians claim as their future capital.

But Abbas said the vote could not go ahead because Israel had provided no assurances regarding Jerusalem ahead of the legislative and presidential polls scheduled for May 22 and July 31, respectively.

Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and blockaded Gaza Strip have voiced hope that elections after a 15-year wait could help repair their fractured political system.

The votes had been called following an agreement between Abbas’s secular Fatah movement, which controls the West Bank and its long-standing rival Hamas, which runs Gaza.

Hamas on Friday blasted Abbas’s postponement as a “coup against (their) partnership” and said he “would bear full responsibility for the decision and its consequences”.

A delay risks inflaming tensions in a politically fractured Palestinian society. Protesters in the West Bank political capital of Ramallah swiftly denounced Abbas’s move.

“We have an entire generation of young people that doesn’t know what elections mean,” protester Tariq Khudairi said.


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