Labor Votes for East Jerusalem Arabs to Participate in Proposed Elections
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Labor Votes for East Jerusalem Arabs to Participate in Proposed Elections

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The Labor Party Central Committee convened Tuesday and adopted a resolution on the peace process seen as a compromise between party hawks and doves.

It calls for the participation of East Jerusalem residents in the proposed Palestinian elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but reiterates the party’s opposition to the repartition of Jerusalem and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

Both Vice Premier Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin praised the party for taking a strong stand on the peace process that preserved the national unity government and “took the air” out of attempts last month by three hard-line Likud ministers to put tough new conditions on the government peace initiative.

The ministers, Ariel Sharon, David Levy and Yitzhak Modai, succeeded in getting those conditions incorporated in a resolution adopted July 5 by the Likud Central Committee. But on July 23, the full Cabinet reaffirmed the original government peace plan, without the new conditions.

One of those conditions was that Arab residents of East Jerusalem should be barred from running or voting in the proposed elections in the administered territories. Likud politicians believe that allowing them to participate would be an admission that East Jerusalem is not part of Israel.

Israel annexed East Jerusalem after capturing it from Jordan in the Six-Day War of 1967. Its Arab residents are entitled to rights that Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip do not enjoy. Many prominent Palestinian leaders live in East Jerusalem.

Labor dealt with the controversial issue by deciding that although East Jerusalem Arabs would participate in the elections, they would not vote in the city itself.

The party also resolved that negotiations with the Palestinians would be held “without delay and with no preconditions.”

This stance also differs with the July 5 Likud resolution, which stated that peace talks could not be held before the end of the Palestinian uprising. The Likud position also ruled out a solution that entailed returning additional territory for peace.

Labor did resolve, though, that the elections must be held in an atmosphere of “non-violence.”

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