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Israel adopting hands-off approach to Palestinian elections

CM 04/04/2021

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Israel is not doing anything to prevent or support the planned election for the Palestinian parliament next month, a senior Israeli official said on Sunday.Asked about accusations from the Palestinian Authority that Israel is blocking the May 22 vote in east Jerusalem, the official said: “Israel has not taken an official stance on the matter…but at the moment, Israel is not doing anything to prevent the election.”Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not called a policy meeting on the Palestinian election, and as such there is no official Israeli policy.The official said that in talks with foreign counterparts, Israelis have expressed concern about the many lists breaking off from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party resulting in a victory for Hamas and other factions that support terrorism.The US has yet to express its position on the Palestinian election, even as it restores humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, because the vote could weaken Abbas and destabilize the region, the official posited.Last week, Abbas’s political rivals, Marwan Barghouti and Nasser al-Kidwa, agreed to join forces ahead of the upcoming parliamentary election.Barghouti and Kidwa struck a deal to run in the election under a unified list called Al-Huriyya (Freedom), Palestinian sources said. The alliance is seen by many Palestinians as a major challenge to Abbas and the Fatah leadership.

The new list consists of more than 60 candidates, including Barghouti’s wife, Fadwa, the sources added.Scores of Fatah activists announced that they would vote for the Barghouti-Kidwa slate and not for the faction’s official list.The split in Fatah boosts Hamas’s chances of scoring a victory in the election, as was the case in the 2006 parliamentary vote.Earlier this week, Hamas unveiled its own unified list for the parliamentary election.The election for the 132-seat Palestinian Legislative Council is scheduled to take place on May 22, while the PA presidency poll has been set for July 31.The turmoil in Fatah could drive Abbas to delay or cancel the elections, according to some Palestinian political activists.Abbas, 86, also heads the Fatah Central Committee, the faction’s highest decision-making body.Barghouti, a senior Fatah official, is serving five life terms plus 40 years in Israeli prison for his role in the murder of five people during the Second Intifada.Kidwa, a former PA foreign minister and nephew of former PLO leader Yasser Arafat, was recently expelled from Fatah after he announced his intention to run in the parliamentary election on a separate list called National Democratic Assembly.A third Fatah-affiliated list contesting the parliamentary vote is headed by Mohammad Dahlan, an archrival of Abbas who was also expelled from Fatah after a fallout with the PA president.Dahlan, a former PA security commander in the Gaza Strip, has been living in the United Arab Emirates since 2011.Earlier this week, Dahlan’s supporters submitted their own list to the Palestinian Central Elections Commission. Source: Jerusalem Post

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