Palestinian factions accuse Israel of poll interference


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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas-led Fatah party and the Islamic Hamas movement have accused Israel of interfering in the upcoming legislative elections scheduled for May 22.

Jamal Muheisen, member of the Fatah Central Committee, said a statement issued on Tuesday that Israel is interfering in the Palestinian elections by arresting candidates in the West Bank and East Jerusalem,reports Xinhua news agency.

"Israel arrested on Tuesday morning four candidates who are on Fatah electoral list from East Jerusalem shortly before holding a meeting to discuss preparing their campaign for running in the legislative elections," Muheisen said.

"Israel is banning all kinds of activities in East Jerusalem that are related to the Palestinian elections, mainly holding rallies and meetings in the city."

Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Fawzi Barhoum said that the Israeli army arrested one of the group's electoral candidates from his home in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

"Arresting one of our candidates is a blatant interference in the Palestinian elections and reflects the endless Israeli attempts to sabotage the electoral process," Barhoum said.

He called on the international community and the international human rights organisations to immediately act to protect the Palestinian electoral process and put an end to the Israeli measures and violations against the Palestinians.

Palestine has also addressed letters to international parties, urging them to exert pressure on Israel to allow holding the Palestinian elections in East Jerusalem.

In February, Palestine announced that it officially addressed the Israeli government, requesting it to allow the Palestinians in East Jerusalem to participate in the legislative elections.

Last week, the Palestinian Central Elections Commission announced that 36 electoral lists have got registered for the legislative elections.

Among the 36 competing lists are Hamas and Fatah. The rest include left-wing parties, independent figures, youths and women.

Besides the legislative polls, the presidential elections will take place on July 31, while the elections of the Palestinian National Council, the highest decision-making body of the Palestine Liberation Organization, is slated for August 31.

The last Palestinian presidential elections were held in March 2005, and the legislative polls in January 2006.

Source: IANS

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