Info on the elections in Paelestine from a solidarity worker
This is something that my friend emailed me about what is really happening around the Palestinian elections.
I have prepared an audio report on the Palestinian elections, held yesterday,
which you can listen to online:
here is the script...
Special Report: Palestinian Presidential Elections
January 10, 2005
On Sunday January 9, Palestinians held their first presidential election since
1996, electing Mahmoud Abbas as the new Palestinian President, while the
Israeli occupation and ongoing military incursions in both the West Bank and
Gaza Strip continue.
On Friday the 7th, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon claimed that
the army had
pulled out of certain areas of the West Bank to facilitate the elections, but
the Palestinian Authority countered that there was no evidence of any troop
pullout, and checkpoints remained closed. The town of Beta remained under
military curfew -- residents there were unable to vote. And residents of the
Al-Mawasi area in Khan Younis refugee camp were barred from voting due to a
military closure of their area.
In fact the weekend was a typical one for Palestinians -- ten arrested,
including a child, 4 seriously wounded, including an eleven-year old and a
seventeen year old, and one child died of head wounds sustained two weeks ago.
An eleven year old child shot by a tank shell Monday morning in Rafah refugee
camp is the third child under twelve to be shot in Rafah within a week. The
deaths, arrests and injuries are an everyday occurrence for Palestinians --
since the current intifada began in September 2000, there has hardly been a
single day that has passed without Palestinians being injured or killed by the
Israeli occupying army. 3,500 Palestinians have been killed and over 28,000
injured since September 2000.
Despite the Israeli military occupation, Palestinians have attempted
a fair, democratic election. From all international observer reports that have
emerged thus far, the elections have been conducted fairly on the Palestinian
side, but with a number of obstructions by the Israeli authorities.
Amar Dwik is with the Central Elections Committee:
Nearly 200,000 Palestinians live in East Jerusalem on the Israeli side of the
separation barrier, 160,000 of them are eligible voters -- the largest single
bloc of Palestinian voters. In the preparations for Sunday's elections, East
Jerusalem saw Israeli obstruction of voter registration, harassment of
registrants, confiscation of registration materials, and the arrests of two
candidates who tried to campaign there (despite a guarantee by the Israeli
legislature that campaigning there would be allowed).
Rami Yezbek of Bassam al-Salhi's campaign:
The Palestinian Central Elections committee negotiated for months with the
Israeli authorities to allow the people of East Jerusalem to be able to vote,
but to no avail. Then, at 2:30 pm on Sunday afternoon, halfway through the
election day, former US President Jimmy Carter accused Israel of obstructing
elections in East Jerusalem. Only then did Israeli authorities agree to allow
the 160,000 East Jerusalem voters to vote within their city.
A spokesperson for the Central Elections Committee:
Voters in East Jerusalem also expressed concerns over the presence of Israeli
security and intelligence officers inside polling stations. Khalid is an East
Concerns were raised by voters and observers that the Israeli authorities'
demand that the translucent ballot boxes be placed on their side
on the privacy of voters. The fact that Israeli intelligence officers were
overseeing translucent ballot boxes laid on their side, that were, at the end
of the day, counted by Israeli authorities at the Central post office, raises
the question of voter intimidation, and may even have affected the outcome of
East Jerusalemites were not the only Palestinians disenfranchised in Sunday's
elections. On January 6th, the Israeli high court decided to not allow the
right to vote for the over 5,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons (at least
1,000 of whom are being held without charges). The four million Palestinian
refugees living in diaspora around the world are also unable to vote in this
election. Naima Saleh is a voter from Deir Istiya:
The Rafah border crossing in southern Gaza remains closed for the 4th
consecutive week, since December 12th. Although the Israeli army has promised
that they would facilitate the passage of Palestinian muslims on their way to
Mecca for the Hajj religious pilgrimage, thousands of would-be pilgrims have
stated that the Israeli army is preventing them from crossing the border. 400
Israeli checkpoints remain in place throughout the Palestinian West Bank and
Gaza Strip, despite the Israeli foreign minister's promise to facilitate
freedom of movement during the election period.
The CEC spokesperson:
During the election in the West Bank city of Hebron, French election observers
were obstructed and attacked by Israeli soldiers and settlers while attempting
to reach the Tareq Ben Ziad school polling center, which is close to
settlement. And Israelis protesting at the Jaffa Gate polling station in
Jerusalem prevented Palestinian voters from entering, and harassed
international observers. Only 6 people managed to vote at that polling station
After a recent statement by Ariel Sharon that "Disengagement unifies
a common goal: keeping Jerusalem, and maintaining our large security blocs in
the West Bank; whose presence and inclusion into Israel will preserve the
nature of Israel as a Jewish State", it is not surprising that the Israeli
military practice on the ground during the election and lead-up to
involved the disenfranchisement of Palestinian voters in East
Jerusalem and the
rest of the West Bank. Voter disenfranchisment is just one part of the process
of the seizure of East Jerusalem and large parts of the West Bank for
process which has included home demolitions, land seizures, military
control of movement through id cards and checkpoints, and the building of the
Israeli annexation wall.
Amar Dwik of the Central Elections Committee:
This report has been brought to you by the International Middle East Media
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