Israeli police arrested on Saturday, April 17, three Palestinian activists in occupied East Jerusalem who were planning to hold a news conference related to the upcoming elections for the Palestinian Authority’s legislative assembly, scheduled for May 22.
Candidates Ashraf al-Awar and Naser Kos (Fatah) and Ratiba al-Natshe, (Fida – Palestinian Democratic Union party) organized an elections rally held on Saturday on Salah-al-Din Street in occupied East Jerusalem. With the conclusion of the event, the candidates and attendees marched towards the St. George Hotel to hold a press conference in which they intended to emphasize the importance of holding the elections in Jerusalem; so much so that they planned to say that the elections for the legislative assembly should not be held at all if they did not include East Jerusalem and all its neighborhoods.
Israel’s occupation forces cordoned off the vicinity of the hotel and checked the identity cards of passers-by and people who were scheduled to attend the news conference. According to the Palestinian news agency Wafa, Israeli military intelligence informed the management of the St. George Hotel that any activity related to the Palestinian Authority is absolutely and explicitly forbidden at the site, and handed them an order issued by the Israeli Minister of Public Security which bans any PA-related activity there.
The Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) held a meeting chaired by President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday, April 18, in Ramallah to discuss the upcoming May 22 elections for the legislative assembly, in general, and specifically their being held in occupied East Jerusalem. Before the meeting, Wasel Abu Yousef, member of the PLO’s Executive Committee, told the official Voice of Palestinian radio that the committee is about to meet at the presidential headquarters in Ramallah to discuss a number of issues including elections and the importance of holding them in occupied East Jerusalem by organizing and encouraging voting and putting forth candidates.
“The meeting is going to discuss the contacts made to allow our people in the holy city to have the right to vote,” he said, stressing “we cannot accept or go along with the ‘deal of the century’ on the exclusion of Jerusalem, and not allowing Palestinians in the city to take part in the elections.” Reports presented at the meeting also discussed contacts made with members of the international community regarding the convening of an international peace conference to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, the establishment of the independent Palestinian state, and the right of return for Palestine refugees.
The European Union’s representative to Palestine, Sven Kuehn von Burgsdorff, affirmed on Friday, April 16, the right of the Palestinian people in all of the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, to cast their votes in the upcoming elections.
During a meeting in Ramallah with Fatah Central Committee Member Jibril Rajoub, von Burgsdorff said the Israeli occupation has no right to stifle the holding of the elections in occupied East Jerusalem, adding that the EU will spare no effort to facilitate the holding of the elections in all of occupied Palestine. Rajoub urged the international community and the EU in particular to pressure Israel not to obstruct the holding of the elections in East Jerusalem, saying Israel is committed to foiling any chance of ending the political division in Palestine and renewing the legitimacy of the political system through the holding of democratic elections.