Palestinian authority postpones parliamentary elections

The long-overdue parliamentary vote in Palestinian territories, set for 22 May, was once again postponed by President Mahmoud Abbas after challengers from his own party threatened to weaken his hold on power, news wires reported.

Abbas' decision, which came just two days before campaigning was supposed to begin, indefinitely postponed the vote and a July presidential election as well. The step angered many Palestinians eager to replace a president who has not held a vote in the last 15 years and failed to deliver on his main goal of achieving independence from Israel. Expectedly, street protests broke out in several cities in the West Bank and Gaza.

"People have been waiting for elections for 15 years, hoping this would be the light at the end of tunnel, especially given the absence of a peace track with Israel," said Fadi Elsalameen, a Palestinian democracy activist and prominent critic of Abbas. "Closing this window will have severe consequences. It will lead to violence against the Palestinian leadership."

At a late-night meeting with party leaders on Thursday, Abbas said Israel refused to commit to allowing Palestinians to vote in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem, which Palestinian leaders claim for a future capital. Israel has not stated its position publicly. "We will not move to hold elections without Jerusalem," Abbas said.

Shortly after midnight, he read from a statement: "Due to this difficult situation, we decided to postpone the legislative elections until the participation of Jerusalem and its people is guaranteed," he said. "We will not relinquish our rights to Jerusalem and the rights of its people to exercise their legitimate democratic rights."

But some other Palestinian officials offered a different explanation for postponing the vote, that a majority of Abbas' party leaders, Israel and regional Arab allies all urged a postponement because it could expedite the end of his political career.

Similar articles

  • Israel reimposes Covid restrictions to avoid lockdown

    Israel reimposes Covid restrictions to avoid lockdown

    Israeli PM Naftali Bennett said on Wednesday that vaccinations and renewed restrictions could spare another lockdown, even as coronavirus infections soar, AFP reported. "Our goal is to keep Israel open but not reach a situation where hospitals will say we're full," he said on a tour of a new vaccination centre in Jerusalem. "We're seeking to avoid that, and know when to hit the brakes," Bennett said. "To refrain from harsher restrictions, we'll get vaccinated, wear masks and maintain distancing."

  • A year after Beirut blast Lebanon is gripped with grief and outrage

    A year after Beirut blast Lebanon is gripped with grief and outrage

    Public anger in Lebanon is mounting a year after the deadly Beirut blast on 4 August 2020, with a stalled investigation and deepening economic and political crisis, news wires reported. Lebanon has declared a national day of mourning to commemorate the first anniversary of the disaster that killed more than 190 people, wounded some 6,000 others and displaced 300,000 more. Shops, banks and businesses are to close, and governmental buildings will fly their flags at half mast.