Efforts by EU to observe Palestinian election failed
Israel has indeed failed to respond to the European Union's request to monitor the first Palestinian elections in 15 years, considerably reducing the risk of providing an adequate observer presence at this critical milestone according to EURACTIV.
Palestinians will vote in legislative elections on May 22nd, followed by presidential elections on July 31st. Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas announced elections as part of a thawing of relations between his Fatah party and its Islamist rival Hamas. The EU has reacted positively to the news.
When asked on Wednesday (31 March) about the lack of response from Israel to the EU's request to observe the elections, Commission spokesperson Nabila Massrali acknowledged the setback.
The initiative was sparked by a proposal from the Palestinian Authority for the EU to observe the votes, she said, adding that the EU was committed to ensuring a sufficient number of observers. She went on to say that one of the conditions for such an initiative would be the deployment of an EU exploratory mission to evaluate the situation several months before the elections.
Despite being in regular contact with Israeli authorities since then, the EU External Action Service formally requested permission for such an exploratory mission on February 8 in light of pandemic-era travel restrictions, she said.
“The delay has considerably reduced the EU option to observe the 22 May legislative elections”, Massrali said, adding that other options had been discussed internally. She explained that the EU had in the past years supported and funded the central elections commission and stood ready to support the election process.
The spokeswoman would not be drawn on whether the EU had complained to the Israeli authorities, but EURACTIV understands that it has not.
EURACTIV asked the Embassy of Israel to the EU why the bloc had not yet received a response, but no reply was received by the time of publication.