- Title: Mixed feelings in Jerusalem over delayed Palestinian elections
- Date: 30th April 2021
- Summary: JERUSALEM (FILE) (REUTERS) DRONE FOOTAGE OF OLD CITY OF JERUSALEM
- Embargoed: 14th May 2021 14:22
- Keywords: Israel Jerusalem Palestinians delay elections
- Location: JERUSALEM/ JABALYA REFUGEE CAMP, GAZA
- City: JERUSALEM/ JABALYA REFUGEE CAMP, GAZA
- Country: Palestinian Territories
- Topics: Middle East,Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA002EAPT5XJ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: CORRECT NAME OF HAMAS SPOKESMAN IS ABDEL LATIF KANOU
There were mixed reactions from some Palestinians in Jerusalem on Friday (April 30) following the announcement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to postpone planned parliamentary elections amid a dispute over voting in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem and splits in his Fatah party.
Abbas, 85, blamed Israel for uncertainty about whether it would allow the legislative election to proceed in Jerusalem as well as in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.
The decision came three months after he announced the first national elections for 15 years in what was widely seen as a response to criticism of the democratic legitimacy of Palestinian institutions, including his own presidency.
The outcome of an election could be gains for Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls Gaza. Abbas's chief domestic rival, Hamas is regarded as a terrorist group by Israel, the United States and European Union but fought a well-organised campaign to defeat a similarly divided Fatah in 2006.
The dispute over Jerusalem was the principal reason cited by Abbas in a speech early Friday following a meeting of Palestinian political factions.
The delay of the elections set for May is likely to draw intense domestic criticism, with Abbas and his allies weakened by challengers from within his own divided Fatah party.
It was not immediately clear whether a presidential vote scheduled for July would go ahead.
The Palestinian Central Elections Commission said it was suspending the election process following Abbas's decision. The election campaign was supposed to begin on Friday.
Protesters in Gaza called for the elections to proceed as scheduled - for many it would be their first election, while Jerusalem residents had mixed feelings regarding the delay.
"There should be elections because it's not legal that the same people are leading us for fifteen to twenty years," said Jerusalem resident Wajeeh Nuseibeh.
But for Bassel Hijazi, elections shouldn't happen without Jerusalem voters, "For sure, Jerusalem is part of the country, if there are no elections in Jerusalem why should there be elections at all?"
Hamas criticized the reversal.
Abbas had hinted at the delay for weeks by claiming that Israel had not agreed to permit East Jerusalem Palestinians to vote in the city.
But many Palestinians regard the Jerusalem issue as an excuse to avoid elections that a divided Fatah might well lose to Hamas.
(Production: Sinan Abu Mayzer, Arafat Barbakh, Mohammed Salem, Mohammed Shanna, Roleen Tafakji)
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