Palestinians Ask Israel to Let East Jerusalem Residents Vote in PA Election

The Palestinian Authority asked Israel on Tuesday to allow East Jerusalem residents to vote in the PA’s planned parliamentary and presidential elections, a request that Israeli officials said would now go to the security cabinet.

Israeli officials say the PA asked under the assumption that Israel would refuse, so Israeli officials are considering how to respond. An Israeli rejection could prevent or delay the elections because the Palestinians do not want to be portrayed as relinquishing their claim to have the capital of a Palestinian state in Jerusalem.

Hamas won the last parliamentary election in 2006. A year later, the group staged a violent takeover in the Gaza Strip; it still rules there, with Fatah dominating the PA government in the West Bank.

The PA has asked that residents of East Jerusalem be allowed to both vote and run in the elections, as was the case in 1996 and 2006. The Palestinian factions tend to agree over the holding of the vote, but Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is waiting for an answer from Israel on the East Jerusalem question before releasing a presidential order to hold the elections.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said the PA had asked a number of countries to put pressure on Israel to allow voting in East Jerusalem.

“We are unable to accept a situation in which the Palestinians in Jerusalem are prevented from participating in the elections,” he said. “This is a national priority and Palestinian policy. Not holding the elections in the city and Palestinian neighborhoods means accepting the separation of Jerusalem from the rest of the Palestinian areas.”

The PA and Hamas have been calling for elections for years, but the lack of trust between the PA in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza has helped stymie the plan.