Jerusalem24 – As the ballot boxes for the second phase of the Palestinian local elections close, the Chairman of the Central Elections Committee Dr. Hanna Nasir announced in a press conference that the turn our was 52.82%.
The Palestinians voted for representatives in 50 local committees. For the most part, the elections ran in a smooth and organized manner.
However, Palestinians living in Jerusalem were unable to cast their votes in this election; as Israel prevents any Palestinian local elections from taking place. Yousef Husseini (who asked not to be mentioned by name) says, “I have not participated in any elections, neither the presidential nor the legislative ones.”
This issue began in 1994 when the Oslo Accords were signed between the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Israeli government. The agreement had left the issue of Jerusalem’s status to the “final phase.”
Thirty years later and no resolution has been reached, and Israel has prohibited any Palestinian municipal elections in Jerusalem.
As Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cast his vote in Al-Bireh, he defended his decision to call off scheduled presidential and legislative elections last year; saying that they had to be held in “all the Palestinian territories.”
The cancellation of elections in occupied Jerusalem has led to a loss of faith in the Palestinian Authority and the democratic process among Palestinians in Jerusalem.
“Any future elections will be something just for the donors, not for improving our lives and living conditions in Jerusalem,” says Husseini.
Article XI of the Oslo Accords explicitly states that “the two sides view the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a single territorial unit, the integrity, and status of which will be preserved during the interim period.” Articles III and IV also mentioned that PA legislative council members will be “directly and simultaneously elected by the Palestinian people of the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip.”
While Israel demands the Palestinians adhere to the Oslo Accords, it often ignores the same agreements.