Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced last night that the first Palestinian national election in 15 years has been postponed until Israel allows the vote to take place in Jerusalem. The election was due to take place next month, but Abbas made the announcement after a meeting of the Palestinian factions in Ramallah.
"We have decided to postpone the parliamentary election until we ensure the participation of the people of Jerusalem," he said. "The elections must be held in all the Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem."
Abbas and several Fatah officials have warned repeatedly that there would be no elections without the participation of the Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem. The Israeli government did not respond to requests to allow Palestinian citizens of East Jerusalem to cast their votes despite the UN and EU members of the Security Council calling on the colonial occupation state to give permission for this.
Protesters gathered in Ramallah ahead of Abbas's announcement, demanding that the vote be held as scheduled, Reuters reported.
Hamas criticised the reversal and denounced the delay as a "coup". Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters, "We reject this decision which violates the national consensus, and the Fatah movement bears responsibility for the consequences of this position."
The proposed legislative, National Council and presidential elections were part of a broader push for reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, seen as vital to building broad popular support for any future statehood talks with Israel. Such talks have been frozen since 2014.
The Palestinians' last parliamentary ballot in 2006 resulted in a surprise victory for Fatah's main rival Hamas. That created a rift that deepened when the group wrested control of Gaza from the Fatah-led PA two years after Israel withdrew settlers and soldiers from the occupied territory.