Abbas to Postpone PA Elections Over Yerushalayim Voters

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. (Reuters/Mohamad Torokman)

Elections in the Palestinian Authority are likely to be delayed indefinitely, analysts said, after PA chief Mahmoud Abbas was told by European countries that they would not try to pressure Israel into allowing the elections to be held in Arab neighborhoods of Yerushalayim. Allowing voting to take place in those neighborhoods was one of Abbas’s conditions for agreeing to hold elections.

PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat told PA radio Saturday that he had been told by European officials that they preferred not to get involved in the matter, although contacts were still ongoing. In any event, Erekat said that Israel had indicated that it would not allow voting to take place in those areas. The last time elections were held in the PA, in 2006, Yerushalayim Arabs traveled outside the city to vote.

The PA agreed to hold elections after coming to an agreement with Hamas on procedural matters. With that, Abbas has not yet declared that elections would actually take place – with the Yerushalayim issue currently the main roadblock.

“We want to hold these elections,” Abbas said at a press conference last week. “We believe in these elections and want them to take place, both for the presidency and the parliament. But we cannot hold them at any price. The elections must take place in all Palestinian areas, including Yerushalayim. Without residents of the city there will be no elections,” he added.