Photo: AP
Abbas – will he delay elections?
Photo: AP

Abbas: Allow Jerusalemites to vote

Palestinian leader says elections to be delayed unless Jerusalem residents allowed to vote

Upcoming Palestinian elections will be delayed should east Jerusalem residents not be allowed to vote, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Monday afternoon.


PA elections are currently scheduled for January 25, but Hamas appears to increasingly gain in strength, prompting ruling party Fatah members to press for an elections delay.


"All of us agree elections must be allowed in Jerusalem too," said Abbas, who is currently visiting Qatar. "If elections are not allowed there, all the factions agree the elections must be cancelled."


Senior PA figure Nabil Shaath, meanwhile, dismissed suggestions that the desire to put off the elections has to do with the Fatah's difficult position.


"We cannot say that we want to delay the elections because of fears," he said. "From now on we must act to boost the Fatah and ensure election success."


Until now, Abbas has rejected pressure exerted on him to delay the elections.


Hamas: This is a dirty game


Hamas has already accused Fatah of using the Jerusalem issue as an excuse to avoid a showdown with the Islamic group.


Mahmoud Zahar, a Hamas leader, said: "This is a dirty game by Fatah designed to delay the elections."


Zahar also said there were no obstacles to holding the elections in Jerusalem on the basis of the arrangement in the previous 1996 elections, where voters cast ballots at postal outlets.


It is unclear whether Abbas' statements are designed to appease those in Fatah who are opposed to elections, or to press Israel and the United States to take a clear stance on the participation of Arabs in east Jerusalem in the Palestinian elections.


Israel has not yet officially announced its stance on the issue, but opponents to the elections within Fatah are enlisting the support of all of the various groups within the group, including prisoners from the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, and representatives of the older Fatah generation, in order to push Abbas into delaying the elections.


A senior Fatah figure told Ynet there was genuine fear regarding the expected results of the elections and a Hamas victory. The official said the members were not blinded by polls giving Fatah close to 43 percent of the vote, as opposed to the 26-30 percent projected for Hamas.


"There is a real fear of Hamas," said the source.


Muhammad Dahlan, a leading member of the younger Fatah generation, said: "The elections must take place on time. A united Fatah will win the elections." His comments expose the division between the young generation, which supports the elections and the older generation, which wants a delay. 


פרסום ראשון: 01.02.06, 18:07
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