Photo Credit: flash90
One man, one vote, one time? Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (left) and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas (also president of the Palestinian Authority) are pictured voting in the last election for the Palestinian Legislative Council, which took place in 2006.

The Palestinian Authority Central Election (CEC) Commission submitted on Sunday a formal appeal to the European Union (EU), requesting that it send observers to monitor the election process in the Palestinian Authority (PA), as well as a call to work with Israel to allow ballots to be placed in eastern Jerusalem as well.

Hashem Kahil, director-general of the CEC, said the PA had sent letters to all international bodies calling on them to support the election process and pressure Israel to allow eastern Jerusalem’s Arab residents to vote in the city.

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EU spokesman for eastern Jerusalem, Shadi Othman, confirmed that the request received from the PA during the day would be forwarded to EU headquarters in Brussels and that the EU would soon begin a dialogue with the various PA Arab factions to secure the election process.

Meanwhile, Othman announced that the European Union is funding the construction of a new building for the CEC and that it will be inaugurated soon.

The PA is not the only one working on the eastern Jerusalem elections. At the end of the week, Ismail, Haniya, the leader of Hamas, spoke with Nickolay Mladenov, the UN envoy to the region, stressing the importance of the international community to the election process and called on him to act to ensure the election process and the proper freedom of voting in eastern Jerusalem as well.

The CEC called on the Palestinian Authority public to go to its website and update the voter register. In about two weeks, CEC teams will begin to go through the residents’ homes, also in eastern Jerusalem, and update the voter register. A number of registration centers will be opened for the benefit of updating the voter register.

So far, 400,000 people have visited the CEC’s site and 70,000 people have updated their details.

The Masarat Institute for Research publishes data ahead of the election, according to which the number of eligible voters currently in the Palestinian Authority is 2.8 million. In 2006, the number of eligible voters was 1.35 million, and this is a steep increase that was not explained by the institute.

The Masarat Institute also claims that 2.2 million residents are currently registered in the voter register and that the Central Election Commission must update the registrations and complete the data of another 680,000 eligible voters.

Meanwhile, protest is growing among legal circles in the PA about the recent amendments to the election law which they say disqualify 63% of eligible voters from running for president. The Palestinian Electoral Law stipulates that the minimum age for a presidential candidate is 40 and the minimum age for candidates for the Palestinian parliament is 28.

Legal sources called for the PA to lower the minimum age for the presidency to 25 as, they claim, 63% of eligible voters, who are 1.8 million people, cannot run for the Palestinian Authority presidency while 31% of eligible voters cannot vote for the Palestinian Authority parliament. They called for the Authority to allow all those with the right to vote, over the age of 18, to run for a seat on the Legislative Council.

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Baruch reports on Arab affairs for TPS.