Two days following his election, Mahmud Abbas said that Palestinians' claim for an independent state must begin with the country borders drawn in 1967 and East Jerusalem should be the state's capitol.
Palestinians held their first election in eight years on 9 January, giving the presidential role to Abbas, while Israeli occupation and military incursions in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip continued.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon claimed that the military pulled out of certain areas of the West Bank to facilitate the elections, but the Palestinian Authority said there was no evidence of any Israeli troop pullout, and checkpoints remained closed. Residents of Beta were unable to vote due to an ongoing curfew, and Israeli military kept Al-Mawasi in Khan Younis closed, preventing residents of this refugee camp from voting.
During the election weekend, 10 Palestinians were arrested, four were seriously wounded, including two minors, ages 11 and 17, and one child died of head wounds sustained two weeks prior. An Israeli tank in Rafah refugee camp shot the third child within a week the 11-year-old. More than 3,500 Palestinians have been killed and more than 28,000 injured since September 2000.
Palestinians conducted a fair, democratic election according to reports from international observers. But the Israeli authorities prevented some Palestinians from voting.
Amar Dwik, with the Central Elections Committee, said the largest voting bloc of Palestinians live in East Jerusalem on the Israeli side of the separation barrier. In East Jerusalem, voters complained that Israeli obstructed voter registration, confiscated registration materials, and arrested two candidates who tried to campaign. At 2:30 p.m. on election day former U.S. President Jimmy Carter intervened and Israel agreed to allow 160,000 voters to vote in East Jerusalem.
Israel demanded voters place ballots in translucent boxes, and Israelis counted the ballots. And Israelis protesting at the Jaffa Gate polling station in Jerusalem prevented Palestinian voters from entering, and harassed international observers. Four million Palestinian refugees living in Diaspora around the world were unable to vote in this election.
In the West Bank city of Hebron, French election observers were obstructed and attacked by Israeli soldiers and settlers while attempting to reach the Tareq Ben Ziad school-polling center, which is close to an Israeli settlement. Only 6 people managed to vote at that polling station all day.
This report has been brought to you by the International Middle East Media Center.
---This content is copyrighted by Jenka Soderberg and was granted for use at Think & Ask, redistribution is permitted. ---