The United Nations and European members of the Security Council called Thursday, April 22, for all eligible Palestinians in East Jerusalem, occupied by Israel since 1967, then formally annexed by her in 1980, to be able vote in the first Palestinian legislative elections in 15 years.
Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and occupied East Jerusalem are due to vote on May 22. The Palestinian election commission says 150,000 voters will be able to cast ballots on the outskirts of East Jerusalem. About 60 candidates in the Palestinian elections are from East Jerusalem.
Palestine’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, urged all countries to press Israel, the occupying power, not to block the upcoming elections in East Jerusalem. Speaking before a UN Security Council virtual session on the Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, Mansour said the past few days saw Israeli occupation forces briefly detain candidates for the Palestinian elections in occupied Jerusalem and ban them from holding a press conference to discuss the matter.
“[T]here is an urgent need to ensure that Israel does not put obstacles in the way of the Palestinian elections,” said Mansour, as he called upon international partners to overcome all difficulties and obstacles in the way to holding the elections, especially in East Jerusalem, the occupied capital of the State of Palestine. He added, “We have met all the requirements for the elections, and there is full readiness to hold the elections which must include East Jerusalem according to the agreements signed, as was the case in the 2006 and 1996 elections.”
“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 spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said. Dujarric was echoing a statement issued by Security Council members Estonia, France and Ireland, and former members Germany and Belgium. “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,” said representatives of these states.
Speaking before the UN Security Council’s virtual session, the UK ambassador to the UN said, “We look forward to fair and just Palestinian elections, and Israel should facilitate the elections in Jerusalem in accordance with the Oslo Accords.” The UK ambassador also condemned the detention of Palestinian candidates by the Israeli occupation authorities, saying that the detentions undermine confidence between the two parties.
Ireland’s UN representative also called for “the Palestinian elections to go smoothly, and that Israel should not pose any obstacles in their way.” She called for providing all forms of support to the Palestinian citizens, especially women, throughout the democratic process. France’s ambassador to the UN also called on Israel not to obstruct the elections in East Jerusalem and the rest of the territories occupied since 1967.