Palestinians Postpone Elections Because of Israeli Occupation

The Palestinian Cabinet on Sunday postponed elections set for next month, blaming the continuing Israeli military occupation of West Bank towns.

The Palestinian leadership issued a statement accepting the recommendation of an expert commission that concluded elections can be held no earlier than three months after Israel pulls its troops back. The elections were originally set for Jan. 20, and there is currently no plan to withdraw Israeli troops.

Israel and the United States had pushed for Palestinian elections as part of reforms in the Palestinian Authority, aiming at sidelining Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. However, since a wave of Palestinian homicide bombings in June, Israeli forces have controlled most of the West Bank's towns, enforcing frequent curfews.

Palestinian officials said they could not organize elections under such circumstances.