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Source: United States of America
5 January 2005



High-level U.S. delegation to observe Palestinian elections



United States hopes Israeli-Palestinian cooperation continues after elections

The United States will send a high-level delegation to observe the January 9 Palestinian presidential election. The delegation will include senators John Sununu and Joseph Biden from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as well as Palestinian-American community leaders George Salem and Ziad Asali.

The delegation will meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials and visit polling sites in an effort to ensure that the election process is free and fair.

In a January 4 statement, State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said that the United States is working with both the Israelis and the Palestinians to support successful administration of the election. He added that the United States hopes the cooperation exhibited by the two parties in the period leading up to the election will continue afterward and ultimately lead to the “realization of the President’s vision of two states living side by side in peace and security.”

Palestinians go to the polls January 9 to choose a successor to the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, who died November 11, 2004, at the age of 75. Arafat had been the president of the Palestinian Authority since his election in 1996. There are seven candidates vying for the position in the upcoming election.

In an effort to ensure a smooth election process, Israel has agreed to withdraw from West Bank towns for 72 hours during the election period. Israel also is allowing East Jerusalem’s 230,000 Arab residents to participate in the elections as absentee voters.

Following is the text of the State Department statement:

(begin text)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release
January 4, 2005
2005/30

Statement by Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli

Official Observer Delegation for January 9 Palestinian Presidential Election

The United States is sending an Official U.S. Observer Delegation to the January 9, 2005 Palestinian Presidential Election. The delegation will be led by Senators John Sununu (R - NH) and Joseph R Biden, Jr. (D - DE) of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and will include four Congressional staff members, and prominent Palestinian-Americans George Salem and Ziad Asali. David Pearce, U.S. Consul General, Jerusalem, will join the delegation when it arrives.

The U.S. Delegation will visit polling sites, meet with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials and prior to departing, will make an assessment of the election process. The Delegation’s visit will demonstrate that the U.S. is fully committed to a free, fair election process that produces a credible result. This outcome will require close coordination between Israel and the Palestinians, and we are working with both parties to support successful administration of the election. We recognize the extent of Israeli and Palestinian cooperative efforts during the period leading to the elections. We hope that this cooperation will continue and will lead to further steps toward realization of the President’s vision of two states living side by side in peace and security.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)


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