Egyptian officials: Palestinians plan to call off elections

An Egyptian diplomat and intelligence official say the decision will be announced on Thursday at a meeting between Palestinian factions.

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Egyptian officials say the Palestinian Authority plans to call off its first election in 15 years, mentioning Israel’s refusal to permit voting in occupied East Jerusalem.

The verdict effectually endows Israel a veto over the holding of elections, though President Mahmoud Abbas could also benefit from revoking the vote, in which his splintered Fatah party is anticipated to lose power to Hamas, the group governing the Gaza Strip.

An Egyptian diplomat and an intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity said they were instructed on the verdict, which will be announced on Thursday at a meeting of Palestinian factions.

They held Egypt is in negotiations with Israel to stretch a compromise to let the vote, but those efforts have so far been futile.

The intelligence official said Hamas wants the elections to go ahead but no faction wants to proceed without guarantees from the international community that voting will be held in occupied East Jerusalem.

The official said the factions are discussing the formation of a unity government instead, which would include Hamas.

The Palestinian Election Commission says 6,000 voters in East Jerusalem would need to submit their ballots through Israeli post offices in accordance with past agreements, while the other 150,000 could vote with or without Israeli permission.

The small number of voters who require Israeli permission are unlikely to have a decisive impact on the vote, but their participation is seen as symbolically important for maintaining Palestinian rights to East Jerusalem.

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