Elections – both Palestinian and Israeli – were top of the agenda for Ehud Olmert’s weekly cabinet meeting. The acting Israeli prime minister is now expected to remain in his current position until the Israeli elections on March 28th, with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon still in a coma after suffering a stroke.
Meanwhile the Palestinian election in ten days time has become a pressing issue. Olmert’s cabinet agreed to allow Palestinians living in Arab east Jerusalem to vote. But Israel’s banned militant group Hamas from listing its candidates there. Among the other candidates is Hanan Ashrawi. “We don’t think that Israel has the right to dictate or decide who is to run and who isn’t. However we are determined to continue to press ahead with our democratic rights, and we are going to press ahead trying to impose conditions, not just for Hamas but for all participants,” she said. Hamas, which is sworn to Israel’s destruction, is popular with Palestinians because of its social welfare work. Israel captured east Jerusalem in 1967 and annexed it, a move that was not recognised internationally.