(Insisting on our Democratic Rights)
BY The Jerusalem Committee of the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations (PNGO) – Jerusalem
12 days exactly separate us from the Palestinian legislative Council Election Day. This is the first communiqué from the Coalition for Jerusalem stating the position of the Coalition regarding the Right of the Palestinians of Occupied East Jerusalem (OEJ) to participate in the upcoming Palestinian Legislative Council elections, due on January 25, 2006, on an equal footing with any other Palestinian living in the territories which were occupied during the 1967 War.
The Palestinian-Israeli negotiations and agreements since 1993 postponed dealing with the post 1967 status of East Jerusalem, on conditions that the Status quo in Jerusalem be respected.
The Oslo Interim Agreements surpassed their timetable. The arrangements for elections in OEJ need to be reviewed in order to allow for free, fair and transparent elections, since:
• Out of 120,000 eligible Palestinian voters, it allows only 5,767 people to elect in East Jerusalem that is less than 5% of the Electorate.
• Voters are not allowed to cast their vote in a secret ballot, but in an absentee ballot form.
During the Presidential election on January 9, 2005, Israel disrupted the voting process, intimidated the electorate, forbade campaigning and referred to Palestinian voters as Post Office customers.
All Palestinian efforts to renegotiate and coordinate for the upcoming legislative elections came to little avail.
Since yesterday Israel allowed for conditional election campaigning. This is insufficient to lead to free, fair and transparent elections in OEJ.
• We insist that the Legislative Council elections should be held as scheduled, and should not be postponed for any reason or disruption other than the Israeli obstructions to elections in OEJ.
• We commend the favourable position and statements of the International Community and Agencies in support of fair, free and transparent elections in OEJ.
• We appreciate the support of the American and the European Union initiatives that proposes additional polling stations to allow for fair elections. We propose that our offices in the city are placed at the disposal of the Central Elections Commission and used as polling stations. These include private schools, Churches, Mosques, and hospitals.
• We expect that all Palestinians in Occupied East Jerusalem are able to reach the polling stations without Israeli intimidations and exercise their election rights by presenting their identity cards.
• We shall be pursuing other initiatives and steps to secure our rights to vote in our own city.
• We seek the active support of the international community and all those who believe in people’s rights for freedom and democracy to our endeavours.
For further information, please contact: The Jerusalem Committee of the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations (PNGO) – Jerusalem, Tel: 02 6562272. Fax.: 02-6562271. Mobile: 054-4653160. Email: [email protected]