J'lem police up presence, lower profile ahead of PA polls

More than 1700 police and border police will patrol the east Jerusalem streets.

police 88 (photo credit:)
police 88
(photo credit: )
Police will beef up their forces in east Jerusalem on Wednesday as Palestinians go to the polls, but in an attempt to keep a low profile will stay away from polling stations in the city, police said. More than 1,700 policemen and border policemen will be patrolling the streets of east Jerusalem during Palestinian voting to maintain law and order and the free movement of voters, as Jerusalem Arabs vote at six post offices in the city. A police election-day command center, which will be manned by security personnel, municipal officials, representatives of the postal authority and the Foreign Ministry, will be set up at a hotel under the command of the Jerusalem police chief. Two additional crossings between Jerusalem and the West Bank will be opened Wednesday to allow Jerusalem Arabs easier access to West Bank polling stations on the outskirts of the city. When polls close at 7 p.m., the city's ballot boxes will be transferred by postal authority officials to Palestinian election officials at a West Bank checkpoint on the outskirts of the city, Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said. Palestinian Authority election officials said the voting conditions provided to them in east Jerusalem would still not allow a "free and fair" vote to take place inside the city despite moves made by Israel to facilitate the balloting. European Union election monitors, who had originally told The Jerusalem Post that they agreed with that statement, backed off slightly, saying they would make an assessment on the quality of the vote Wednesday. "We will wait and see," said Mathias Eick, a spokesman for the EU monitors. "It's not the preferred option, but if both sides can live with it, so can we."