Ashrawi to EU envoys: EU support is needed for free elections

RAMALLAH, Friday, PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said on Thursday during a meeting with the European Union heads of missions in Palestine that EU support is needed to protect the Palestinian People’s right to convene free elections.

During the meeting, which was held at the invitation of the EU Representative to Palestine, Ralph Tarraf, Ashrawi addressed the prospects of convening elections and democracy in Palestine. She also discussed the political dimensions and conditions required to implement the decisions of the PLO National and Central Councils, including ending the interim period of the Oslo peace process.

Ashrawi also emphasized the need to create the suitable political and logistical environment for elections in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

Elections are an essential component of democracy as are the protection of rights and freedoms, the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law, as well as respecting civil society and its institutions, Ashrawi said. She added, Elections must also be a means to ending the internal division, which would enable the Palestinian people to exercise their rights as citizens in the context of a healthy democratic system.

Ashrawi also reminded EU representatives of the political context of elections, which the Palestinian leadership is determined to organize. The inalienable rights of the Palestinian people must not be ignored. Elections must be the basis for self-empowerment that would lead to the establishment of an independent Palestinian State on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, she affirmed.

Impediments from the Israeli occupation have become a serious concern, especially in relation to concerted Israeli efforts to ban official Palestinian presence in Jerusalem,” Ashrawi stated, adding, “Without serious international support to Palestinian elections, we fear Israel will block the elections.

The PLO official concluded by urging EU representatives to protect and support all pillars of democracy in Palestine, including Palestinian institutions, adding, The EU can and should play an important role in ensuring that Palestine can once again hold free and fair elections, including sending observers. Equally important is for the EU to ensure that the international community respect the will of the Palestinian people in a way that supports their political and national rights.

In addition to Dr. Hanan Ashrawi’s intervention, EU representatives also heard from the head of the Central Election Commission, Hanna Nasser and the Director General of the Independent Commission for Human Rights, Ammar Dweik.

Source: Palestinian News & Info Agency