'Israel may use elections to attack Palestinians'

Chief PLO negotiator says Israel could also exploit elections to expand settlements, "Judaize Jerusalem"; PA official says decision to advance election will not affect efforts to upgrade Palestinian status at UN.

Chief PLO negotiator Erekat 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/NIR ELIAS)
Chief PLO negotiator Erekat 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/NIR ELIAS)
The Palestinian Authority fears that Israel would use the upcoming election campaign to launch fresh attacks on the Palestinians and continue building in the settlements, Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said Wednesday.
PA officials, meanwhile, said they were not surprised by the decision to hold early elections in Israel.
The PA is busy these days preparing for the October 20 local elections in the West Bank – the first since 2005.
A PA official in Ramallah said that PA President Mahmoud Abbas was following the developments in Israel.
The official said that the PA leadership does not interfere in Israel’s internal affairs.
Another official said that the decision to advance the election would not affect the PA’s efforts to upgrade the status of a Palestinian state to non-member in the UN.
“We are determined to ask the UN General Assembly to vote on our application next month,” the official added.
“We fear that the election campaign in Israel would be accompanied by more assaults on the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, expansion of settlements and Judaization of Jerusalem,” Erekat said in statements to a number of local news organizations. “These [actions] are war crimes.”
Erekat said that the Palestinians consider Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision to call early elections an “internal Israeli affair.”
He added that Palestinians have become used to successive Israeli governments avoiding fulfilling their obligations toward the peace process.
Erekat said that the Netanyahu government had preferred settlements to peace with the Palestinians. “The Netanyahu government has sought to destroy the peace process,” he charged.
Sufyan Abu Zaida, a senior Fatah official, said that Netanyahu realizes that the peace process will once again be at the top of the agenda of the international community at the beginning of next year.
Abu Zaida said that both Israel and the US are aware of the fact that the PA would not be able to survive in wake of the severe financial crisis it is facing.