Determined to remain ‘occupied’ and ‘stateless’ the Muslim religious jurists of Abbas’ Palestinian Authority forbids all of the 300,000 Palestinian Arab residents of East Jerusalem from holding office, or even voting in Jerusalem’s municipal election.
The highest Muslim religious authority in the Palestinian territories issued a fatwa, or directive, on Monday forbidding participation in Jerusalem’s upcoming municipal election.
The some 300,000 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem have traditionally boycotted local elections in the city because they do not want to legitimize Israel’s 1967 annexation of its eastern neighborhoods.
However this year at least two Palestinian residents have said they want to stand as candidates and a recent poll by found nearly 60 percent of Arab East Jerusalemites wanted to take part in the vote, scheduled for October 30.
But the Ifta Higher Council, the Palestinian territories’ most important body of Islamic jurists, issued a religious prohibition against any involvement in the election, according to a statement quoted by the official Wafa news agency.
According to the report, the council’s statement argued “that those who justify participating in the elections under the pretext of protecting and defending the interests of their city were proven wrong from … former experiences.”
The Jerusalem-based authority also charged Israel with “tempting” Palestinian residents with participation in the election while not providing them with adequate services.
Palestinian residents of the holy city typically do not apply for Israeli IDs, although in recent years the number of those doing so has slowly risen.
Only 14 percent of Palestinian East Jerusalem residents opposed voting in this year’s election, according to a Hebrew University-led survey cited by Haaretz in February. Most of those who were keen to participate were young and better educated.
One candidate, Iyad Bibuah, announced last year his intention to form a party called the East Jerusalem Party to run in the local elections. He was followed by another activist, Ramadan Dabash, who earlier this year said he would also lead a new party.
In March Jerusalem’s Mayor Nir Barkat announced he would not seek a third term and would instead fight for a spot on the ruling Likud party’s parliamentary slate.
Since winning control over the entire city in the 1967 war, Israel has established several Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.
In May the government announced a $2 billion package of measures for East Jerusalem, including for the adoption of the Israeli curriculum by Palestinian schools and a controversial cable car project near the Old City.
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