JERUSALEM — When the Palestinian Authority called in January for parliamentary elections, many Palestinians hoped the vote — the first in the occupied territories since 2006 — would revive Palestinian discourse, re-energize the independence movement and end a 14-year division between Palestinian leaders in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.
But those hopes were dashed Thursday night when President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority announced that the vote, scheduled for May 22, would be delayed indefinitely.
The news compounded an unsettled political dynamic across the occupied territories and the state of Israel, where both Israeli and Palestinian societies remain racked by political stalemate and division, where tensions are rising in Jerusalem and Gaza, and a return to peace negotiations appears less likely than ever.
The official reason for the postponement was the refusal by the Israeli government to confirm that it would allow voting in East Jerusalem, which was annexed by Israel after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. East Jerusalem is mainly populated by Palestinians who participate in elections for the Palestinian Authority, a semiautonomous institution that exerts partial jurisdiction in other parts of the occupied territories.
wrested control of Gaza from Mr. Abbas in 2007, and which has never recognized Israel.
“It is a big mistake to go to these elections,” Kamil Abu Rokon, an Israeli general who oversaw administrative aspects of the occupation until earlier this month, said shortly before leaving his post. “My recommendation is not to cooperate.”
at an impasse, following an election in March — Israel’s fourth in two years — in which both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his opponents failed to win a workable majority.
In Jerusalem, the situation is tense, following a march last week by far-right Jewish supremacists who chanted “Death to Arabs,” attacks on both Palestinians and Jews, and the provocative Israeli decision, now rescinded, to close a central plaza in East Jerusalem where Palestinians enjoy gathering during the ongoing month of Ramadan.
That unrest broke months of relative calm in Gaza, where militants fired dozens of rockets toward Israel last weekend to protest the situation in Jerusalem.
The city is at the heart of the pretext provided by Mr. Abbas to postpone elections.
Under the interim agreements signed in the 1990s between Israeli and Palestinian leaders known as the Oslo Accords, the Israeli government is obliged to allow Palestinian elections in East Jerusalem.