Arafat to set date for general elections

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat receives his voter registration card at a polling station at his headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah, on Saturday.Nasser Nasser / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said Saturday he will set a date for general elections immediately after a round of municipal elections in Palestinian areas in December.

Arafat spoke after opening a voter registration drive for local, legislative and presidential elections in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.

Starting Dec. 9, municipal elections are to be held in 36 towns and villages -- the first voting in the Palestinian areas in eight years.

Asked Saturday when he would set a date for general elections, Arafat said: "As you know, we have ... municipal elections soon, and after that immediately, there will be general elections."

Tentative dates for general elections have been set repeatedly in the past only to be postponed, with Arafat insisting Israeli troops must first withdraw from West Bank towns and cities. In his comments Saturday, Arafat again referred to "difficult circumstances," but said the Palestinians would follow the path of democracy.