UN urges Israel to allow Palestinian elections in east Jerusalem
The United Nations and European members of the Security Council called Thursday for all eligible Palestinians in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem to be able vote in the first Palestinian legislative elections in 15 years.
Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem are due to vote on May 22 ahead of a planned presidential election in July that various opinion polls have President Mahmoud Abbas losing.
The Palestinian election commission says 150,000 voters will be able to cast ballots on the outskirts of East Jerusalem, in a process that does not require a green light from Israel. And a symbolic 6,300 will get to vote within the holy city itself under Israeli supervision.
But Palestinian authorities fear that arrangement could still leave thousands of the city's inhabitants disenfranchised.
"It is very important that Palestinians in all parts of the occupied Palestinian territory are able to participate in this very important democratic process," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
Dujarric was echoing a statement issued by Security Council members Estonia, France, and Ireland, and former members Germany and Belgium, after the council's latest monthly session on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"We stand ready to support free, fair and inclusive elections across the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and welcome the constructive engagement by the Palestinian factions," they said.