International election monitors have visited Israeli military checkpoints in the occupied Palestinian territories, to make sure voters have access to the polls ahead of Sunday's Palestinian presidential elections. Israel says it has only promised to ease restrictions, not lift them. And it has warned it will reconsider that promise if militants exploit the situation. Despite the difficulties, election officials say they have distributed more than 1,000 ballot boxes in Gaza and the West Bank. Polls open at 7 a.m. (local time) Sunday, and almost two million Palestinians are eligible to vote. However, militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad have called on their supporters to boycott. Preliminary results are expected Sunday night.
Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Mahmoud Abbas is the overwhelming favorite, but he will need a strong victory to help him rein in militants and negotiate with Israel. In other political news, acting Palestinian President Rawhi Fattouh announced that parliamentary elections will be held July 17th.