Israeli acting Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, said on Tuesday that the cabinet will decide next week whether to allow the Palestinian in East Jerusalem to vote in the upcoming Palestinian legislative elections on January 25.
Israeli online daily Haaretz reported that Olmert told U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that East Jerusalem Arabs would be able to vote in elections, but he stressed that Hamas candidates will not appear on voting slips in the city.
According to the Haaretz, Israeli Minister Shaul Mofaz (Kadima party) and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom (Likud) "clashed" over this issue.
Shalom expressed his opposition on allowing the Palestinians to vote in East Jerusalem.
Also, Olmert told Rice that the cabinet would vote Sunday to authorize the participation of several hundred East Jerusalemites in the elections; Israel allowed the Palestinians to vote in East Jerusalem during the first legislative elections in 1996, and in 2005 presidential elections.
Yet, Israel will not allow the name of Hamas from appearing on ballots in Jerusalem.
An Israeli source reported on Tuesday that the United States administration is determined to achieve the understandings arrived with Ariel Sharon regarding the implementation of the Road Map Plan., and the two-state solution.
The American position was "careful" in order not to give the impression of siding with Israel; U.S State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack stated that Israel and the Palestinian should work out a solution to the dispute over voting.
McCormack added that the "Israeli security concerns" and the Palestinian desire to include all Palestinians in the elections should be taken in consideration.
Also, Haaretz reported that the U.S Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice secretly sent, Jim Wilkinson, one of her closest aides, to the Palestinian areas to "help Abbas and the Palestinian Authority set up modern media facilities, and modernize their day-to-day operations".
Meanwhile, Mofaz said that Israel would follow the policy of previous Palestinian elections, including last year’s presidential vote, when it permitted a small number of East Jerusalem residents to vote in local post offices.
The rest of the eligible voters were permitted to vote in Jerusalem suburbs.
"Israel’s policy regarding elections in East Jerusalem will stay like it was, the elections will take place in the format used in 1996 and the same applies for East Jerusalem", Mofaz stated, "There will be elections in East Jerusalem in the 50 post offices approved in 1996, Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem will also be able to vote in other polling booths in the West Bank".