Jerusalem (QNN)- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was offered at least four solutions to allow the first Palestinian elections in 15 years to move forward this month, a Palestinian official with direct knowledge of election plans stated.
A source involved in election logistics told Middle East Eye (MEE) that in recent weeks Abbas had been presented with several workable options for East Jerusalem during internal meetings.
The source spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, MEE wrote.
He said possible solutions included putting voting stations in UN facilities in Jerusalem or in European embassies, facilitating electronic voting or putting polling stations inside of Jerusalem.
The source stated, however, Abbas used Jerusalem as an excuse to delay the elections and protect his position against rivals within his own Fatah party, expressing frustration over long hours spent preparing for the polls.
“There was a real will to have an election, but from the first day that [Fatah rival Marwan] Barghouti decided to run, we knew there will be no election,” the source told MEE.
He added, “The election really was serious. There was no problem with Hamas. There was an agreement. The problem was inside Fatah.”
However, a member of the Palestinian Authority’s executive committee denied that there had been any solutions on the table for Jerusalem.
“It’s all not true and it didn’t happen. The European Union didn’t propose anything for us, nor the United Nations,” said Ahmad Majdalani, a former minister and ambassador.
“We can’t conduct an election without Jerusalem, otherwise we will support the Deal of the Century,” he said, referring to the controversial peace plan proposed by Donald Trump which proposed Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. “So what do you think – what choice is better?”
Awni Almashin, a political activist who is running on Barghouti’s list, said he wasn’t surprised by the delay, which would clearly negatively impact the PA’s status and power.
The bigger concern, he said, is the power that Abbas has handed to Israel by using Jerusalem as an excuse.
“What happened in a meeting of two factors. From one side, some of the groups fear they will lose their power. From the other side is Israel’s lack of will for an election. The interests of Israel and Abu Mazen [Abbas] have met,” Almashin said.
“What is more dangerous is not only postponing the election, but Abu Mazen putting that in the hand of Israel.”
Inas Abbad, a political science researcher and lecturer based in Jerusalem, said that, for her, the postponement raised questions about who the United States would proceed with as a broker of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
On Friday, Abbas announced the postponing of the parliamentary elections, blaming the occupation state for uncertainty about whether it would allow the legislative election to proceed in Jerusalem as well as in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.
In January, Abbas said that legislative, presidential and National Council elections would be held in the coming months, as part of a warming of ties between Fatah and Hamas.
The elections are supposed to be held under decree issued by President Mahmoud Abbas in three stages: the legislative on May 22, the presidential elections on July 31, and the elections for the National Council on August 31.
The last Palestinian elections for the Legislative Council were held in 2006, and Hamas won the majority, while presidential elections were held in 2005, and President Abbas won.