Most residents of eastern Jerusalem hold permanent residency or Israeli citizenship, and receive social security, health benefits and other services from the Israeli government.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
As the Palestinian Authority prepares for general elections expected to take place in spring 2021, PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh are planning to set up polling stations in eastern Jerusalem.
Adult residents of the Gaza Strip, Palestinian residents of Judea and Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem are eligible to vote in PA elections.
Senior PA officials told Channel 20 that if the PA is unable to secure voting sites in eastern Jerusalem, the election will likely be delayed. The ability for eastern Jerusalem residents to vote is viewed as an “essential condition” for PA elections, officials said.
To ensure their vote, PA officials are also reportedly exploring alternative options, such as online voting.
In an internal meeting on Tuesday, Shtayyeh said the PA should call upon European countries and the UN to pressure the Israeli government to allow PA elections in eastern Jerusalem.
The issue of eastern Jerusalem residents voting in PA elections has long been contentious. According to the 1994 Oslo Accords, the PA can hold elections in eastern Jerusalem if they are conducted in cooperation with the Israeli government. But many in Israel view eastern Jerusalem residents voting in PA elections as a violation of Israeli sovereignty over the city.
Most residents of eastern Jerusalem hold permanent residency or Israeli citizenship, and receive social security benefits, health plans, and other services from the Israeli government.
“Palestinian Authority elections in East Jerusalem hurt Israeli sovereignty in the eastern part of the city,” Maor Tzemach, founder of right-wing NGO Your Jerusalem, told WIN.
“Israel cannot allow East Jerusalem residents to vote for the Palestinian parliament. In the past, Israel allowed this, and one of the candidates elected was Muhammad Abu Tir – a senior Hamas member who has been imprisoned for terror offenses.”
“The French in Paris don’t vote for the British parliament. There’s no reason Israeli citizens should be voting for the Palestinian parliament in Ramallah.”
Tzemach acknowledged that the PA may use online voting or televoting in order to skirt the challenges around erecting physical polling sites.
“If there’s some sort of digital voting, and an East Jerusalem resident decides to participate, he should immediately lose his Israeli citizenship,” Tzemach added.