AMMAN: Upcoming elections will help bring Palestinians back together and restore national unity, one of Palestine’s most senior politicians claimed on Wednesday.
Jibril Rajoub, secretary of the Fatah movement, told Arab News he was confident that the May 22 legislative and July 31 presidential elections would heal the rift between Fatah and Hamas. “Elections will lead to an end of this division,” he said.
On Fatah’s strategy to win at the polls, the 67-year-old political figure noted that a successful list must take into consideration geography and the struggle profile of those standing for office, while it was also important to have candidates covering all Palestinian communities.
“People are not going to ask what you want to do in the future, but they want to know what sacrifices you made in the past,” Rajoub added.
Four small factions, including an independent group headed by businessman Munib Al-Masri, have announced they will be part of the Fatah list headed by the party’s deputy head, Mahmoud Alloul.
But despite the unity talks, Rajoub’s own movement was facing major divisions after supporters of the imprisoned leader Marwan Barghouti agreed to join a list fronted by Nasser Al-Qudwa, nephew of the late Yasser Arafat, with Barghouti’s attorney wife, Fadwa, being No. 2 on the Palestinian Democratic Forum. Former minister Bassem Khoury is also on the list.
Barghouti’s support for the list of Al-Qudwa means that the undeclared conflict between him and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas could cause a major split during the presidential elections, which Barghouti has vowed to contest from the Israeli prison where he is serving multiple life sentences.
A senior Fatah source told Arab News that the recent developments would permanently scar the leading Palestinian national movement, especially if Barghouti joined the fray for the presidency.
Renegade Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan’s supporters have also announced a list headed by Gazan Samir Masharawi with Jerusalemite Sari Nusseibeh as their No. 2 candidate.
Former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad will head the Together We Can list that includes Makram Abbas, Jaber Wishah, and Anwar Zakaria. Two left-wing parties — the People’s Party and Fida — have agreed to run on a joint list.
More than 30 lists have been announced although it is unclear if they will all be certified. The deadline for submissions was midnight on Wednesday although lists could be withdrawn later. Pollsters are predicting that many votes will be wasted.
Hamas has announced a list of its top leaders headed by Khalil Al-Haieh. The Fatah source said that while its opponents were disciplined and would get a strong showing, many secular nationalist votes would be wasted because most lists would not pass the 1.5 percent threshold, which required about 25,000 votes.
At least 2 million Palestinians in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip are registered to vote, with 1 million of them voting for the first time.