Skip to main content
CNN Europe CNN Asia
On CNN TV Transcripts Headline News CNN International About Preferences
powered by Yahoo!

Erakat: Palestinians to postpone elections

Israeli withdrawal must precede vote, Arafat told

Yasser Arafat met Friday with election officials, who recommended postponing the vote.
Yasser Arafat met Friday with election officials, who recommended postponing the vote.

   Story Tools

• Interactive: Road map explainer
• Interactive: Timeline
• Map: Occupied lands
• Interactive: Key Players
• Gallery: Mideast lands

RAMALLAH, West Bank (CNN) -- The Palestinian general election scheduled for January 20 has been postponed until Israel withdraws from all Palestinian cities and territories, Palestinian cabinet minister Saeb Erakat said Sunday.

Holding the election would be impossible while Israel is imposing curfews and closures in Palestinian areas, Erakat said.

A senior Israeli official said there can be free elections only when Palestinians end terror attacks against Israeli civilians and implement democratic and economic reforms.

"There will be elections when the democratic infrastructure is in place," the official said.

"The whole concept of free elections is not dependent on the presence or absence of Israeli troops, but is more dependent on the absence of terrorism and violence within the Palestinian society," said Ra'anan Gissin, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Israeli troops have intermittently occupied various cities and territories in the West Bank and Gaza since the latest Palestinian intifada, or uprising, began, in September 2000. Sunday, the Israeli military re-opened roads in Gaza that it had blocked Saturday in response to the shooting death of a rabbi by suspected members of Islamic Jihad.

The Palestinian Election Committee met Friday with President Yasser Arafat and recommended postponing the election until 100 days after Israel withdraws its troops from Palestinian towns, election officials said.

The election committee must approve the cabinet's decision. Arafat first called for the January election in May of this year.

The postponement comes as the so-called Middle East Quartet -- the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations -- revealed a seven-page draft "road map" to a "final and comprehensive settlement of the Israel-Palestinian conflict by 2005."

The settlement calls for an immediate cease-fire, followed by three phases that would lead to "an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbors." (Full story)

The "road map" calls for "specific phases ... that have to be completed before you can have free elections," said Gissin. "Free elections will be conducted when there is a cessation of the violence."

Erakat said the U.S. consul in Jerusalem, Jeff Feltman, had delivered a message from the Bush administration that included a final draft of the road map. The Palestinian Authority leadership will study the draft and will give the Quartet a response as soon as possible, Erakat said.

-- CNN producer Avivit Dalgoshen in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

Story Tools

Top Stories
Iran poll to go to run-off
Top Stories
CNN/Money: Security alert issued for 40 million credit cards
© 2004 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.