Palestinian officials meet int'l delegations over holding elections

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RAMALLAH, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- International delegations arrived on Monday in the Palestinian territories to meet with the Palestinian side and talk about holding the elections, a senior official said.

Reyad al-Malki, the Palestinian Authority (PA) Minister of Foreign Affairs, told "Voice of Palestine" Radio that UN and European delegations will visit both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during this week to discuss holding the parliamentary and the presidential elections.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian factions, including the Islamic Hamas movement, agreed to hold the parliamentary elections first in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem.

Earlier this week, leaders of the Palestinian factions are waiting for Abbas to issue a presidential decree that sets up a date for holding the parliamentary elections.

However, the Palestinian officials, including Abbas, stated that the Palestinian elections won't be held if Israel doesn't allow the Palestinians in East Jerusalem to run and vote.

Al-Malki said that the international delegations will meet with Palestinian leaders, representatives of the Central Elections Commission, Palestinian parties and factions and civil society institutions.

"The international delegations also will directly contact the Israeli side and exert pressure on it in order to accept holding the elections in East Jerusalem," said al-Malki.

Last week, Hussein al-Sheikh, member of Fatah Movement's Central Committee had earlier stated that the Palestinian Authority applied to the Israeli side to let the Palestinians in East Jerusalem to join the upcoming elections.

On Sunday, a senior Palestinian official said Israel postpones giving a response to the Palestinian request to allow holding the upcoming Palestinian elections in East Jerusalem, and let its residents run and vote.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the PA held contacts with European countries as well as with Russia, China, Jordan, and Egypt to exert pressure on Israel to let the elections held in East Jerusalem.

The Palestinian parliamentary elections were held in January 2006 in all Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, where the Islamic Hamas movement won an overwhelming majority.

The presidential elections were held one year before, where Mahmoud Abbas was elected as the president of the PA and succeeded late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat who died in November 2004. Enditem

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