PA prime minister wants Israel pressed over E. Jerusalem vote
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PA prime minister wants Israel pressed over E. Jerusalem vote

As head of new unity government with Hamas, Rami Hamdallah says ballots crucial in upcoming general elections

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah speaks during a press conference following the first cabinet meeting of the new Palestinian unity government in the West Bank city of Ramallah on June 3, 2014. (photo credit: Abbas Momani/AFP)
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah speaks during a press conference following the first cabinet meeting of the new Palestinian unity government in the West Bank city of Ramallah on June 3, 2014. (photo credit: Abbas Momani/AFP)

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah called Wednesday for international pressure on Israel to let Palestinians in annexed east Jerusalem vote in an upcoming general election.

Hamdallah’s new unity government is tasked with organizing parliamentary and presidential elections in the Gaza Strip and West Bank by the end of the year.

But voting in east Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in 1967 and later annexed, would require Israeli authorization.

Meeting foreign delegates in Ramallah Wednesday, Hamdallah urged “the international community to intervene and exert pressure on Israel to hold the elections in east Jerusalem,” his office said.

Hamdallah stressed that “the new government will not be able to guarantee a free and democratic elections without east Jerusalem”.

A surprise unity deal signed in April between Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organisation aimed to end years of bitter rivalry between the terror group and Fatah, which dominates the PLO.

On Tuesday, Hamdallah announced that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and members of the new unity government would visit the Gaza Strip in the near future.

“Gaza is a precious part of the homeland,” Hamdallah was quoted by Lebanon’s Daily Star as saying.

Israel has refused to recognize the new government, but the US and the EU have said they will work with the new Palestinian leadership.

Israel has castigated the US over its position, arguing that by maintaining ties with a government supported by a terror group, the US was indicating to Abbas that it was okay to “form a government with a terrorist group.”

“I’m deeply troubled by the announcement that the United States will work with the Palestinian government backed by Hamas,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told The Associated Press, saying the group has murdered “countless innocent civilians.”

“All those who genuinely seek peace must reject President Abbas’s embrace of Hamas, and most especially, I think the United States must make it absolutely clear to the Palestinian president that his pact with Hamas, a terrorist organization that seeks Israel’s liquidation, is simply unacceptable,” he said.

Hamas won the last round of parliamentary elections in 2006, but was boycotted by the US and Europe.

On Tuesday, the European Union welcomed the new government as “an important step” in Palestinian reconciliation.

But a statement said future support would depend on the government sticking to principles such as the need for a two-state solution and Israel’s right to exist.

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