In fact, the people in the Palestinian Territories should have been able to vote in May. Now the authorities have canceled the date – there is no new one.
In the Palestinian Territories, the responsible electoral commission officially announced the suspension of the electoral process on Friday. The first election for more than 15 years, scheduled for May 22nd, had previously been postponed at short notice. There is no new date.
Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas cited the conflict over Jerusalem as the reason. It was agreed to postpone the election until the participation of the people in the eastern part of the city was secured. The Islamist Hamas – the second largest Palestinian group after Abbas’s Fatah – criticized the decision. Together with other groups, she wants to protest against the shift in the Gaza Strip.
Israel does not comment on it
Speculation about a postponement because of the Jerusalem question had been going on for days. The status of the city is one of the central points of contention in the Middle East conflict. Israel claims Jerusalem as “the eternal and indivisible capital” for itself. For their part, the Palestinians are sticking to their claim to East Jerusalem as the capital and recently repeatedly insisted on Israel’s clear approval of the option to choose in East Jerusalem.
The Israeli side did not comment. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs only stressed in general that Israel did not want to interfere in the election or prevent it.
From a legal point of view, Israel’s permission to vote in the Arabic-influenced eastern part of Jerusalem is not necessary. In fact, consent is absolutely necessary, as Israel controls the east of the city. The Israeli police have recently repeatedly taken action against any electoral activity there.
EU calls for a new election date
The European Union reacted disappointed. Foreign Representative Josep Borrell said Friday the EU had consistently expressed its support for credible, inclusive and transparent elections for all Palestinians. He demanded that a new election date be set immediately.
Experts had warned of great frustration among the Palestinians in the event of a postponement. Due to the large number of young people and the previous election long ago, around half of the approximately 2.5 million eligible voters would have been able to vote for the first time. In surveys, two thirds of those questioned recently indicated that they were dissatisfied with Abbas.
The vote in the Palestinian Territories was intended as part of the reconciliation effort between Fatah and Hamas. An agreement should in turn pave the way for new talks with Israel on a two-state solution.