Palestinians on Saturday demanded from Israel not to interfere in the next parliament elections, after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was quoted as saying he wants Hamas excluded and might withhold cooperation if the Islamic Movement do partake in the vote. The election is set for January.
Sharon told The New York Times that if Hamas is in the race, Israel could make it difficult for Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank to reach polling stations. "I don't think they (Palestinians) can have elections without our help," Sharon told the newspaper.
On his part, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said any Israeli interference would only hurt the PA and strengthen Hamas. "I urge the Israelis to stay out of our elections and our internal affairs, and not to put their noses in this," Erekat said. "Our election ... will be a turning point toward political pluralism and toward maintaining law and order."
Meanwhile, Sharon and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas have tentatively agreed to meet at the beginning of October, Erekat added. According to him, a key item on the agenda will be the fate of the Gaza Strip-Egypt border. He said a possible date is Oct. 2.