An Islamic Jihad militant attends an anti-Israel rally in Rafah..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) became the first Palestinian faction to say it will boycott the municipal elections set to take place October 8.
“After completing discussions and consultations, [PIJ] announces that it will not take part in the municipal elections,” the group said in a press release on Tuesday, arguing that “resistance” rather than municipal elections will achieve the Palestinians’ national goal of liberation.
“The current circumstances of Palestinian division, the siege on Gaza, the policies and crimes of the occupation in Jerusalem and the West Bank and its complete control over all aspects of life… does not make these elections a first priority in serving the people.
“Our people’s first national need is liberation from the occupation, which will only happen through resistance and escalating and developing the intifada,” the statement said.
PIJ also stated that arrests carried out by the Palestinian Authority security services and Israel make it difficult to run an effective campaign.
“The security pursuits and arrests by the occupation and Palestinian Authority in the West Bank do not permit effective communication with the masses, which is the essence of the electoral process.”
Before the announcement, PIJ had not formally said whether it would participate in the elections, but its leader Ahmed al-Mudalil said in mid-July that PIJ has no objection to elections as long as they take place under a national consensus.
Shimrit Meir, the editor-inchief of al-Masdar, an Israeli website that targets Arabic speakers, told The Jerusalem Post that PIJ has always boycotted elections.
“I do not think the PIJ has ever taken part in elections, so its boycott of the municipal elections is not a new policy,” she said, adding that “PIJ prefers to focus on a strategy of what it calls ‘muqawama,’ which is resistance and fighting Israel.”
PIJ boycotted the last municipal elections in 2012 along with Hamas, as well as the 2006 parliamentary elections.