"If the Israelis insist on not allowing us to conduct the elections in Jerusalem, then there will be no elections at all," Nabil Shaath, the Palestinian Information Minister, said on Wednesday.

 

Earlier Israeli officials they would not allow Palestinians living in occupied east Jerusalem to vote because it objected to the participation of Hamas militants in the race, and did not want to help bring its candidates to come to power.

 

"We will not allow there to be any polling booths in Jerusalem for the Palestinian elections," said an official in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office on condition of anonymity.

 

"In the past, we have allowed Palestinians to vote in post offices but not this time."

 

Occupied territory

Israel
captured and then annexed east Jerusalem after the 1967 war, but the international community still regards the area, home to nearly 200,000 Palestinians, as an occupied territory.

 

"We will not tolerate any political activity and we are also determined to prevent any attack against our sovereignty over our capital Jerusalem, especially as Hamas is taking part in the election," said the official.

 

The conservative Islamic resistance movement Hamas is fielding parliamentary candidates for the first time.

 

Israel has strongly objected to Hamas taking part in what is only the second ever parliamentary poll, arguing that the 1993 Oslo autonomy accords bar anyone who advocates violence to stand in Palestinian Authority elections.

 

Hamas has been behind the majority of anti-Israeli attacks over the course of the five-year uprising and does not recognise Israel's right to exist.

 

Israel did reluctantly allow east Jerusalem residents to vote in post offices during January's presidential election, but confusion over voter registration prevented many Palestinians from casting their ballot.