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Israel obstructs voting in East Jerusalem

July 1, 2012

Friday, December 30. 2005

Israel declared yesterday that it would not allow voting in occupied East Jerusalem in the upcoming Palestinian election as it sought Egypt’s help to halt a feared upsurge in violence ahead of the polls.

Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz held talks with Egypt’s intelligence services chief Omar Suleiman to use Cairo’s influence on resistance groups, accusing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s administration of sitting on its hands.

While Mofaz was looking for outside help to rein in groups such as Hamas, his army was taking action on the ground, killing a local leader of the resistance movement during an arrest operation in the northern West Bank.

Israel has strongly objected to Hamas taking part in what is only the second ever parliamentary polls, unless it renounces violence and recognises the Jewish state’s right to exist.

The movement’s participation in the elections was one of the reasons cited by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s office for not allowing Palestinians living in occupied east Jerusalem from participating in January’s election.

“In the past, we have allowed Palestinians to vote in post offices but not this time,” an official said on condition of anonymity.

Israel captured and then annexed East Jerusalem after the 1967 war but the international community still regards the area, home to nearly 200,000 Palestinians, as occupied territory.

Abbas said the Palestinian leadership would carefully consider its next step, saying it had yet to be officially informed of Israel’s decision.

Having warned of a resumption of Hamas violence ahead of the polls, Mofaz urged Suleiman to help persuade the faction to hold its fire.

“I will make General Suleiman aware of our concerns about the continuing firing of the Qassam rockets against our territory so that he can use his influence” to try to restore the calm, Mofaz said ahead of the meeting.

The main Palestinian resistance factions signed a truce back in March during talks hosted by Cairo. While the truce has largely held, there has been a recent spike in the firing of Qassams, rockets named after Hamas’s armed wing.

“The Palestinian Authority is doing nothing. It is non-existent,” said Mofaz, adding that “we must therefore do everything necessary to assure our security.”

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