Jerusalem residents to vote in Palestinian elections as Israel lifts ban
Israel's Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz announced on Tuesday that Palestinians residents of East Jerusalem would be allowed to vote in the upcoming Palestinian parliament elections scheduled for January 25.
The election has been at the heart of controversy, as participation of the Hamas faction, which Israel considers a terrorist group, led Israel to ban voting by Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, which is under Israeli sovereignty.
Voters will cast their votes at one of five Jerusalem post offices or at voting stations in the West Bank, similar to voting procedures for Palestinian parliamentary elections in 1996.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had announced on Monday that Washington had assured him that, despite Israeli misgivings, Palestinians living in Jerusalem would be allowed to vote in the city and the elections will thus be held as scheduled.
Since the Jerusalem voting ban was initially announced, Abbas had maintained that elections would not take place if Israel did not reverse its decision.
"We are on the way to elections and there's no doubt about it, but if something happens along the way, we'll decide how to act. We have not heard from the Israeli side anything to make us certain voting will take place in Jerusalem. We've only heard vague things from them," Abbas stated.
The United States, however, refused to confirm or deny Abbas' statements.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat expressed his satisfaction with the news, though he stated that the Palestinian Authority had yet to hear official word about the change of policy, according to Haaretz.
"If this is the case, I welcome this position of the Israeli government," he said.