Israeli Authorities Continue its Policy to Ban Election-Related Activities in Jerusalem in a prelude to Prevent Jerusalemites’ Participation in General Elections
Date: 18 April 2021
Time: 10:30 GMT
On Saturday, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) banned a second meeting organized in occupied East Jerusalem by civil society organizations (CSOs) and several Jerusalemite candidates running for elections to discuss the Palestinian General elections. IOF also arrested four candidates and referred them to investigation before releasing them and threatening them not to hold similar activities. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns such practices, which is part of the Israeli authorities’ attempts to impede holding the Palestinian general elections. Furthermore, these practices reflect a clear political decision to prevent Jerusalem’s participation in the elections and deny the Palestinians in Jerusalem their right to vote or run for the elections.
According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 14:00 on Saturday, 17 April 2021, IOF imposed a security cordon around The candidate Naser Qaws said that IOF deliberately closed all streets leading to St. George Hotel in central occupied East Jerusalem, to impede the second meeting organized to discuss holding the Palestinian legislative elections in occupied East Jerusalem. Qaws added that the candidates gathered on Salah al-Deen Street and held a press conference, stressing that no elections will be held without Jerusalem. IOF dispersed the gathering, stopped the conference, and arrested Qaws along with candidate Ratiba Abu Ghush. They were then referred for investigation in al-Maskoubeya Police Station in West Jerusalem along with candidate Ashraf al-A’war, who was previously arrested near St. George Hotel. Qaws added that the Israeli Intelligence Service interrogated them about their electoral activities, which are banned in occupied East Jerusalem, notified them that IOF will ban any election-related activities under the pretext that the Israeli Government did not issue any decision that allows holding elections in Jerusalem. The candidates were later released.
It should be noted that on 06 April 2021, IOF banned a similar meeting, which was supposed to be held at the Ambassador Hotel in occupied East Jerusalem, and arrested two candidates, including Naser Qaws, the candidates on Fatah electoral list. The two candidates were then referred for investigation, and IOF told them that any election-related activities are banned in occupied East Jerusalem.
In the same context, IOF continue to impede and intervene in the Palestinian elections by arresting a number of candidates and threatening others not to run for elections or arresting some of them in the West Bank. On 06 April, IOF arrested Hasan Mohammed Wardian (62), a candidate on the Hamas-affiliated list “Jerusalem is Our Destiny”, from his house in Bethlehem, and put him under administrative detention for four months. Also, on 12 April, IOF arrested Najeh Abdullah Dar ‘Assi (47), a candidate on the “Jerusalem is Our Destiny” electoral list, from his house in Ramallah.
These practices are part of the Israeli occupation’s attempts to obstruct the Palestinian elections, especially in Jerusalem, and the situation is expected to be worse as the elections approach. Such practices contradict Israel’s international obligations, particularly Article (25) ofthe International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which ensures the right of each citizen to choose their representatives, and Article (21) of the same Covenant which guarantees the right of peaceful assembly.
PCHR stressed that Jerusalem’s participation in the elections is not an issue of number or geography, but it would reflect a significant political connotation regarding the Palestinian national rights and the right of Palestinians in Jerusalem in order to face “the Deal of the Century”, the efforts to make a Jewish majority and create new facts and the crime of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians in the occupied City. It should be noted that Palestinians in Jerusalem took part in previous elections held in 1996, 2005, and 2006.
PCHR Confirms that East Jerusalem is an occupied territory, and all measures taken by the Israeli authorities following the occupation of the city in 1967 do not change its legal status as an occupied territory according to the international law and the Security Council Resolutions.
In light of the above, PCHR calls upon the international community to hold its responsibility and take serious action in order to hold the elections in Jerusalem in a way that guarantees the right of the Palestinians living in Jerusalem to vote or run for the elections. PCHR also calls upon the international community to practice pressure on the Israeli occupation and stop its interference in the upcoming Palestinian elections.