The Middle East Coordinator calls for a new and timely date for the Palestinian elections

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The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, said he understood the “disappointment of many Palestinians” who had spent nearly 16 years without being able to vote.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced the postponement of the planned parliamentary elections, amid a dispute over voting rights in East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed, according to news reports.

Israel governs voting conditions in the city, and the Palestinians are said to insist that all of the 150,000 eligible voters be allowed to cast their ballots – far more than was the case under a previous agreement with Israeli authorities.

“In the face of this difficult situation, we decided to postpone the date for holding the legislative elections until the participation of Jerusalem and its people is guaranteed,” Abbas said on Palestinian TV.

The last Palestinian elections in 2006 sparked a split between the factions, as the extremist Hamas movement took control of the Gaza Strip, while Abbas’s Fatah movement won a majority in the occupied West Bank.

The democratic path

Mr. Winsland encouraged the Palestinians to “continue on the democratic path,” and emphasized “broad international support” for transparent and inclusive elections throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

He emphasized that giving people the opportunity to vote will renew the “legitimacy and credibility” of Palestinian institutions and help restore Palestinian national unity.

“This will pave the way towards meaningful negotiations to end the occupation and achieve a two-state solution based on United Nations resolutions, international law and previous agreements,” the UN official added.

Moreover, setting a new and timely date for the elections would be an “important step” in reassuring the Palestinian people that “their voices will be heard.”

Crisp setting

Noting that the United Nations has reaffirmed its support for strengthening Palestinian national institutions, the Special Coordinator stressed that a prolonged period of uncertainty may lead to “exacerbating the fragile situation”.

He called on all parties to maintain calm, restraint and refrain from violence, and encouraged leaders from all sides to “ease tensions and create conditions for the resumption of the electoral process.”

More to track …
Bulletin Observer Human Rights News

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