European Parliament delegation to observe Palestinian election process
A 30-member team from the European Parliament is set to arrive in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to observe the upcoming Palestinian parliamentary elections scheduled for January 25.
The delegation, comprised of members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will meet with various candidates and election officials on January 22, and subsequently will man polling stations on the 25th of the month.
EP Vice-President Edward McMillan-Scott (EPP-ED, UK), who also chairs the delegation, expressed his hope that the elections would meet high standards.
"I look forward to elections in Palestine to the same standard as those we witnessed in last year's presidential election. That was a model for the region, where democracy is largely absent,” he said, according to Ynet.
He also stressed his support for the right of East Jerusalem residents to participate fully in the elections.
”We are also looking forward to Palestinians living in East Jerusalem having the same opportunity to vote as their relations elsewhere - and to seeing candidates campaigning freely there,” referring to the controversy regarding the exclusion of Hamas candidates as a condition for the city's Palestinian residents to vote on the part of Israel.
Israel has maintained that since Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel, it reserves the right to ban its participation in elections in East Jerusalem, which lies under Israeli sovereignty.
Many, however, have pointed out that Israel's strategy may have backfired, and that by specifically banning the group, Israel significantly increased support for it amongst Palestinians.
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