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 Friday, 20 December, 2002, 14:54 GMT
Arafat urged to delay Palestinian poll
The Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat meeting with Palestinian officials
Arafat says he will decide on Sunday
Palestinian officials have urged Yasser Arafat to delay January's presidential and legislative elections until Israeli forces withdraw from the West Bank.

The headquarters of the Palestinian Authority at Ramallah
Palestinians say Israeli tanks hinder election preparations
The head of the Palestinian electoral committee, Ali Jerbawi, said it was "impossible to hold them in the current circumstances".

Israeli forces swept into the West Bank in June after a series of suicide bombings, imposing strict curfews on Palestinians and seriously restricting movement between towns and villages.

"We place full responsibility on the Israeli authorities for not being able to make the required preparations to conduct a proper and democratic election on the designated date," said election official Hanna Nasser.

Overdue

Under pressure from the international community to reform his Palestinian Authority, Mr Arafat had announced three months ago that elections would be held on 20 January.

He said a decision on whether to postpone the ballot would be taken during a cabinet session on Sunday, the Associated Press news agency reported.

The election is more than two years overdue.

The last Palestinian vote which took place in 1996 was aimed at installing a leadership only until a Palestinian state was declared. At the time it was hoped that would be within three years.

But when agreement could not be reached between Israel and the Palestinians, Mr Arafat remained in office.


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30 Nov 01 | issues
25 Jun 02 | Middle East
16 Dec 02 | Politics
29 Nov 00 | profiles
08 Jul 00 | Middle East
29 Nov 01 | Key documents
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