Jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti will run in the Palestinian Authority presidential election slated for July 31, Nasser al-Kidwa, a former PA foreign minister, declared on Wednesday.Kidwa made the announcement shortly after arriving in the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.A nephew of former PLO leader Yasser Arafat, Kidwa has joined forces with Barghouti to run in the May 22 Palestinian parliamentary election as well. “Our candidate for the presidential election is Marwan Barghouti,” al-Kidwa told Palestinian reporters. “On the 20th anniversary [sic] of his incarceration, we send Barghouti a message of solidarity and wish him success.”Barghouti was arrested by the IDF in Ramallah on April 15, 2002. Two years later, he was convicted on five accounts of murder and one account of attempted murder, as well as membership in a terrorist organization. He was sentenced to five cumulative life sentences and an additional 40 years.If confirmed, the 61-year-old Barghouti will be the first Palestinian to announce his intention to run for the PA presidency.Public opinion polls have shown that Barghouti is expected to defeat PA President Mahmoud Abbas and other candidates in a presidential election. It is not clear at this stage whether Abbas, 85, will run againt for office. Abbas was elected as PA president in 2005 for a four-year term.Kidwa was recently expelled from Fatah after he formed his own party, National Democratic Forum, to run in the parliamentary election.He later announced that he and Barghouti have agreed to form an electoral list called Al-Hurriya (Freedom).Barghouti himself is not part of the Al-Hurriya list. Instead, his wife, Fadwa, is running together with Kidwa in the election for the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).The Kidwa-Barghouti slate is one of three Fatah-affiliated lists participating in the PLC vote. The other two are the official Fatah list dominated by Abbas loyalists, and the exiled Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan’s Al-Mustaqbal (Future) list.Kidwa is hoping that if his list receives a large number of seats in the PLC, this would boost Barghouti’s chances of winning the presidential election.In his statements in Gaza, Kidwa said that his list has been facing “harassment and pressure” since its formation. He did not provide further details.“The elections reflect the desire of the Palestinian people to bring about a radical change in the Palestinian political system,” he added. During his visit to Gaza, Kidwa is expected to meet with representatives of several Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.Abbas, meanwhile, urged Germany and other countries to exert pressure on Israel to agree to holding the Palestinian elections in Jerusalem.His appeal came during a phone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday night.“President Abbas briefed Merkel on the Palestinian elections, stressing that they are going to be held in all the Palestinian territories, including east Jerusalem,” the PA’s official news agency Wafa reported.“We have asked the parties of the Quartet [US, United Nations, European Union and Russia], other countries and Germany to exert pressure on Israel to agree to holding elections in the occupied city of Jerusalem in accordance with the signed agreements and the previous Palestinian elections held in the city,” Abbas reportedly told the German chancellor.Several Palestinian factions said last week that there would be no elections without the participation of Jerusalem’s Arab residents, who hold Israeli-issued ID cards. Hamas officials expressed regret that their representatives were not invited to the meeting of the factions in Ramallah.Israel has yet to announce its position regarding the participation of Jerusalem’s Arab residents in the upcoming Palestinian elections.Palestinian civil society activists have expressed fear that Abbas may use the issue of Jerusalem as an excuse to delay or even cancel the elections. Some suggested that the Arab residents be offered to cast their ballots in PA-controlled villages near Jerusalem if and when Israel does not allow the vote to take place in neighborhoods located within the borders of the Jerusalem Municipality.