U.S. official sources said today that the U.S. administration opposes an initiative to hold presidential elections in Palestine suggested for January 2005.
Having said so, Washington adopts the Israeli position that rejects such an initiative, claiming that this is an attempt by the Palestinian President Yasser Arafat to ‘regain’ international recognition as a legitimate president through democratic elections.
This initiative was suggested by the Palestinian Minister for Negotiations affairs, Dr. Saeb Ereikat in his last week meeting with the U.S. secretary of State Collin Powell in Washington.
In the meeting, Ereikat said the Palestinians are ready to be the first who implement the American reform initiative known as ‘The Great Middle East’ with an aim claimed to call for promoting democracy, human rights and transparency in the Middle East countries. Ereikat asked the white house welcome holding legislative presidential elections in the Palestinian Areas.
However, Powell told Ereikat that ‘such elections have to be well prepared, and to be within the framework of the road map.’ ‘The first step of this plan requires the Palestinians to efficiently fight terrorism’ Powell affirmed.
Ereikat responded that Palestinians are unable to fulfill such a requirement as long as the Israeli army is still assuming control over the Palestinian areas, adding that fighting ‘terrorism’, given the current situation, is like a political suicide. ‘We have to give the PA the legitimacy, and this comes through elections.’ Ereikat added.
The Americans are actually for Palestinian elections out of their belief that this will bring new leaders on stage.
On the other hand, the Israeli Ambassador to Washington, Danni Ayalon, said ‘the Palestinian attempts to revive the elections issue is an attempt to get Arafat back to the control room, as he will be an elected legitimate president at least in the eyes of the world public opinion.’
Ayalon reiterated that the PA is required to fight ‘terrorism’ and control the security and hold structural and security reforms before holding elections.
Local commentators said Both US and Israel are clipping the PA’s wings and asking it to fly. On one hand, they ask them to stop the resistance to the Israeli occupation, and on the other hand, the Israeli army is the real one in control.