Abbas delays Palestinian parliamentary polls, blaming Israel

Critics say the Palestinian leader is using the Jerusalem issue as an excuse to avoid elections that a divided Fatah might well lose to Hamas.

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has suspended scheduled parliamentary elections coming this month amidst a dispute over voting in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem and rifts in his Fatah party.

Abbas accused Israel of uncertainty about whether it would let the legislative election to proceed in Jerusalem as well as in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, on Friday.

The verdict came three months after he proclaimed the first national elections in 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 see advantages for Hamas, which controls Gaza.

Abbas’s chief domestic rival, Hamas, had brawled a well-organized campaign to downfall a similarly divided Fatah in 2006. The dispute over Jerusalem was the principal reason cited by Abbas in a speech early on Friday following a meeting between Palestinian political factions. “Facing this difficult situation, we decided to postpone the date of holding legislative elections until the participation of Jerusalem and its people is guaranteed,” Abbas said in the speech on Palestinian TV.

In previous elections, Israel allowed a few thousand Palestinians to vote in Israeli-controlled post offices in East Jerusalem. But this time, the Israelis said they do not have a government to approve the Palestinian request.

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