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VOICE OF AMERICA
SLUG: 2-321612 Palestinian Election Monitors (L-only)
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=1/8/05

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE=PALESTINIAN ELECTION MONITORS (L-ONLY)

NUMBER=2-321612

BYLINE=BENJAMIN SAND

DATELINE=JERUSALEM

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

HEADLINE: Election Monitors Tour Israeli Checkpoints ahead of Sundays

Palestinian Vote

INTRO: International election monitors toured Israeli military checkpoints

and Palestinian voting sites today (Saturday), ahead of Sundays

presidential elections in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

VOAs Benjamin Sand reports from Jerusalem.

TEXT: Election observers visited roadblocks and checkpoints in

the West Bank and Gaza Strip to see how easily Palestinians were

able to pass.

A key concern is maintaining access to the polls in a region marked by a divided Palestinian territory and numerous Israeli security checkpoints.

Israel has promised to ease travel restrictions and roadblocks for

seventy-two hours and stop military operations in the Palestinian areas.

But Palestinian officials complained delays were continuing and said

Israel had not fulfilled its promises. Israeli officials said they had never

promised to lift restrictions altogether and stressed that security concerns

come first.

Among the election monitors is former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who has

urged Palestinian officials to conduct a peaceful, free and fair election.

He said this could be an important opening to a resumption of peace talks.

/// CARTER ACT ///

"And that this election will be a demonstration that there can be

trustworthy negotiations in the future between the Israelis and the

Palestinians to find some common ground."

/// END ACT ///

Israel asked Mr. Carter to warn the Palestinian Authorities to rein in

militants to avoid precipitating an Israeli security crackdown.

Mr. Carter and former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt are among the leaders of

an 80-member international delegation from the Washington-based National

Democratic Institute.

The delegation is joined by official observers from the European Union, the

United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

An official U.S. monitoring group is also here, headed by Senators John

Sununu and Joseph Biden.

Close to one-point-eight million Palestinians are eligible to vote in

Sunday's election. They have seven candidates to choose from for the

position of president of the Palestinian Authority. Opinion polls indicate

former Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas is the likely winner.

After the polls close Sunday night, monitors will follow the ballot boxes to

election headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah and help certify the

official results, expected on Monday.

There are about 800 international observers and 20-thousand Palestinian

monitors preparing for Sunday's election. (SIGNED)

NEB/BS/SP/KL



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