The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on Tuesday called on Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem to boycott municipal polls slated for October.
The PLO’s Executive Committee “strongly opposes the participation of Palestinians in elections conducted in the occupied city [of East Jerusalem] because this will only lend legitimacy to the illegal [Israeli] occupation,” PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said in a statement.
“Any [Palestinian] participation in the elections will only serve to aid Israel in the establishment of its ‘Greater Jerusalem’ project,” he added.
Erekat went on to describe Israel’s Jerusalem Municipality as “an arm of the Israeli government that plays a role implementing its colonial settlement project and ethnic cleansing policies by making life impossible for East Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents”.
Jerusalem remains at the heart of the perennial Middle East conflict, with Palestinians hoping East Jerusalem — long occupied by Israel — might someday serve as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.
Israel occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980 claiming it as the Jewish state’s “undivided and eternal capital” — a move never recognised by the international community.
International law views the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “occupied territories” and considers all Jewish settlement construction there as illegal.