Swiss urge Palestinians to hold elections “as soon as possible”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cited uncertainties about whether the polls would be able to proceed in East Jerusalem, annexed by Israel, for his decision to postpone elections. Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

The Swiss foreign affairs ministry has called on all parties to resume efforts to “ensure free, inclusive and transparent elections” throughout the Palestinian Territories and to set a new date for the polls without delay.

This content was published on May 3, 2021 - 12:09

The ministry on Monday said it regretted the decision by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to postpone elections, which it believes are essential for restoring the legitimacy of Palestinian institutions and preserving a two-state solution.

“For Switzerland, strong, inclusive and functional Palestinian institutions are essential for promoting the rule of law and human rights, as well as to strengthen good governance.”

Last Friday, Abbas announced he would postpone parliamentary and presidential elections, originally set for May 22 and July 31, respectively. They were to be the first elections organised in the Palestinian Territories in 15 years.

The president cited uncertainties about whether voting would be allowed in East Jerusalem, annexed by Israel, and in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, for his decision.

Holding the polls as soon as possible would provide “perspectives to the Palestinian population, among whom an entire generation has grown up without experiencing elections”, the Swiss ministry said, adding it was ready to help facilitate dialogue between the different parties. It also cautioned all actors to show restraint in this “sensitive period”.

Finding a two-state solution to the long-standing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is one of the priorities of the Swiss government’s foreign policy strategy in the Middle East.

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