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Israel Agrees to Permit Palestinian Voting - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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JERUSALEM, AP – Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz on Tuesday said Israel will permit Arab residents of Jerusalem to vote in upcoming Palestinian elections — a key step toward resolving a standoff that had threatened to derail the balloting.

Mofaz said Israel would follow the policy of previous Palestinian elections, including last year’s presidential vote, when it permitted a small number of Jerusalem Arabs to cast votes in local post offices. The remainder were permitted to vote in outlying suburbs in the West Bank.

“Israel’s policy regarding elections in east Jerusalem will stay like it was,” Mofaz told reporters while on a tour near the city. The arrangements were reached under interim peace agreements in the mid-1990s.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said he hadn’t heard anything official from the Israeli government about the plan. “If this is the case, I welcome this position of the Israeli government,” he said.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the most sensitive issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital. The Palestinians claim the eastern sector of the city as capital of its future state.

Israel had been threatening to prevent voting in Jerusalem because the Islamic group Hamas, which is committed to Israel’s destruction, is running in the Jan. 25 election. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said the election would be canceled if Palestinians in east Jerusalem weren’t allowed to vote.

Mofaz’s announcement came a day before a team of U.S. envoys were scheduled to arrive to help resolve the dispute.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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