Jailed Fatah official Marwan Barghouti.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The front-running candidate to replace Mahmoud Abbas as head of the Palestinian Authority, jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, believes the PA will soon have its first election for president in more than a decade, according to MK Basel Ghattas (Joint List), who met with him on Thursday.
Ghattas visited Barghouti in honor of the Id al-Adha holiday at Hadarim Prison (formerly Tel Mond Prison), where Barghouti is serving five life sentences plus 40 years for five murders and an attempted murder committed while he led Fatah’s Tanzim militia. Ghattas said Barghouti was healthy and closely followed the news.
“Based on what I heard from him multiple times, I think he will run,” Ghattas said. “He thinks that if the situation does not change, Abbas will reach conclusions [about leaving politics], and there will be democratic elections.”
Ghattas said Barghouti was familiar with the results of Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research’s poll last week, which found that if an election were held and Abbas did not run, 32 percent of respondents would prefer to see Barghouti replace him, nearly 20% prefer Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah of Fatah got 8%, and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and former Fatah operative Muhammad Dahlan each received 6%.
The two most moderate potential candidates fared the poorest in the poll. Only 4% said they favored failed PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat, while former PA prime minister Salam Fayyad of the Third Way party got only 3%. The poll, which found a majority of Palestinians oppose the two-state solution, was conducted in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip from September 17 to 19, covered 1,270 adults and had a 3-percentage point margin of error.
Ghattas said Barghouti believes PA relations with Israel have hit a dead end.
The MK said he did not support efforts to prevent the appointment of former Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip chairman Dani Dayan as ambassador to Brazil, because he did not want a less extreme candidate to be appointed who would “whitewash” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government.
Joint List MK Yousef Jabareen sent a letter to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Thursday asking her not to approve the appointment.
“Dayan has consistently acted with blatant disregard for international law and norms, and has been spearheading various initiatives that directly violate the Palestinian people’s basic rights,” Jabareen wrote in his letter to Roussef.
Jabareen quoted from a New York Times opinion article that Dayan wrote in 2012 in which he defended the expansion of the settlements in the West Bank.
“Dayan is a settler who is ideologically committed to the development of the settlements – a policy Brazil recognizes as illegal under international law,” Jabareen wrote. “Approving his appointment as ambassador would legitimize his criminal ideology and practices, and send a resounding message that Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people has no consequences in the international arena.”Nathan Wise contributed to this report.