The UN has called on Palestinian leaders to maintain their commitment to democracy and quickly set a new date for elections.
Tor Wennesland, the organization’s special coordinator for the Middle East Peace process, said this would be an important step in “reassuring the Palestinian people that their voices will be heard.”
He also warned that a “prolonged period of uncertainty risks exacerbating the fragile situation.”
Earlier on Friday, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas announced the indefinite postponement of legislative and presidential elections scheduled for May 22 and July 31 respectively.
He demanded assurances from Israel that voting will be permitted in East Jerusalem, and urged the international community to put pressure on Israeli authorities to ensure this is allowed.
The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem, an area annexed by Israel in 1967, as their future capital.
Wennesland said he understands the disappointment of Palestinians “who have so clearly expressed a desire to exercise their democratic rights after nearly 16 years without elections.”
But he called on all leaders to show restraint and refrain from violence so that the environment needed for a peaceful resumption of the electoral process can be maintained.
He reiterated the UN’s stance that “the holding of transparent and inclusive elections throughout the occupied Palestinian territory, including in East Jerusalem, as stipulated in prior agreements remains essential for renewing the legitimacy and credibility of Palestinian institutions and opening the path to re-establishing Palestinian national unity.”
Wennesland added that elections will also help to pave the way for a return to meaningful negotiations as part of the efforts to end the Israeli occupation and achieve a two-state solution based on UN resolutions and international law.