Israel has yet to grant visas for a preliminary European Union delegation that wants to prepare for its representatives to observe the Palestinian legislative council election scheduled for May 22 and as a result its observers may not be able to participate fully in the event, the EU said.
“The delay has considerably reduced the EU option to observe the 22 May legislative elections,” the EU Representative Office in Jerusalem said.
The Foreign Ministry said it was not commenting on the matter.
The Palestinian Authority’s Central Elections Commission had asked the EU to observe the elections already in January. It had similarly observed the 2006 elections.
“On 8 February 2021, in light of current and ongoing travel restrictions and access limitations for nonresidents due to COVID-19, the European External Action Service sent a formal request to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs requesting access for the EU exploratory mission via Israel to the Palestinian territory,” the EU said.
“Despite continuous contact with the Israeli authorities over the past five weeks, a reply granting access has yet to be received,” it added.
“There is a long lead-time to prepare for such a complex operation as an Election Observation Mission. One of the prerequisites is the deployment of an EU exploratory mission several months before the elections to assess the situation,” the EU explained.
Now that the visas have not been granted, the EU is looking at other options to allow its involvement in the elections.
“The EU is strongly determined to support the upcoming Palestinian elections, in particular by ensuring adequate EU observer presence,” the EU said.
In past years, the EU has “consistently supported and funded the work of the Central Elections Commission in order to prepare for holding credible, inclusive and transparent elections for all Palestinians.
“The EU stands ready to engage with relevant actors to support the electoral process,” it said.
On Monday, EU Representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff met with the PA elections commission in Ramallah to discuss the voting that will take place for the Palestinian Legislative Council and for the PA presidency in July.
It is the first time since 2006 that Palestinian legislative elections have been held.