Israel leaning to permitting PA balloting in east J'lem

Official says same modalities as used during 05' presidential elections and 96' PA legislative elections being considered.

East Jerusalem Arabs vote (photo credit: Channel 1 [file])
East Jerusalem Arabs vote
(photo credit: Channel 1 [file])
Israel is now inclined to allow voting for next month's Palestinian legislative elections from east Jerusalem post offices, a senior government official said Saturday night, less than a week after reports that Israel would not allow this type of voting led to PA threats to call off the elections. The official said that while no final decision on the matter had yet been made, Jerusalem was considering following the same modalities in the upcoming elections as were used during the January 2005 PA presidential elections and the 1996 Palestinian legislative elections. The issue, he said, was much more a symbolic than practical one, since so few east Jerusalem Arabs actually voted in the post offices in the last elections. He said Israel was considering allowing the balloting despite Hamas' participation so that Israel would not be blamed for torpedoing the elections. Last week Israeli officials told Belgian European Parliament member Veronique de Keyser, head of the EU delegation here to observe the elections, that Israel might not allow voting in east Jerusalem were Hamas allowed to participate. This position, championed by the Prime Minister's Office, was at odds with the position staked out by the Foreign Ministry. The Foreign Ministry recommended that the same procedures used in January 2005 and 1996 be used this time as well. During the elections in January some 5,000 east Jerusalem Arabs were eligible to cast ballots in east Jerusalem post offices, and another 100,000 could vote outside of the city. All told, however, only some 1,200 people voted in the post offices, and only some 5,000 at polling places set up outside the city