Palestinian Elections: Abbas faces ‘revolt’ over Fatah’s electoral list

Some Palestinians said on Saturday that the mounting tensions marked the beginning of an unprecedented mutiny against Abbas and the veteran Fatah leadership.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas  (photo credit: FLASH90)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas
(photo credit: FLASH90)
The schism in Fatah has deepened after the ruling faction, headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, submitted its list of candidates for the upcoming parliamentary election to the Palestinian Central Elections Commission (CEC).
Some Palestinians said on Saturday that the mounting tensions marked the beginning of an unprecedented mutiny against Abbas and the veteran Fatah leadership.
Several Fatah activists and prominent figures accused Abbas of excluding them from the faction’s official list. Some went as far as publicly denouncing Abbas as a “dictator” running Fatah and the PA as a one-man show.
“President Abbas is facing a real rebellion,” said a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council. “Many Fatah activists are unhappy with the electoral list and are planning to vote for other parties.”
Fatah candidate Zakaria al-Talmas, meanwhile, warned that his faction was facing a “big conspiracy” by a number of foreign intelligence agencies and other parties. He did not provide details about the alleged conspirators.
In some parts of the West Bank, Fatah gunmen took to the streets to voice their opposition to the list, which was presented to the CEC last Wednesday.
In Jenin, scores of Fatah gunmen announced that they have suspended their membership in the faction. Firing a volley of shots into the air, the gunmen accused Abbas and the Fatah leadership of excluding many of their supporters from the list.
Mohammed al-Sabbagh, a senior Fatah activist, appealed to Abbas to form a commission of inquiry to determine the identity of those who “conspired” against the faction’s representatives in the Jenin area. Sabbagh accused “influential people” in the Fatah leadership of sowing discord and undermining unity among the faction’s supporters.
In the Fawwar refugee camp near Hebron, unidentified gunmen opened fire at the home of Ziyad al-Hamouz, a Fatah activist whose name appeared on the list for the parliamentary election, set to take place on May 22. Hamouz said that at least nine bullets hit his home, shattering windows and damaging one of the doors. No one was hurt.
The shooting incident occurred shortly after Fatah leaders presented their faction’s list to the CEC offices in Ramallah.
In the Shuafat refugee camp, north of Jerusalem, arsonists set fire to a women’s center headed by Jihad Abu Zneid, a leading Fatah activist and former member of the parliament, the Palestinian Legislative Council.
The incident, which took place on Friday morning, is also believed to be related to disputes among prominent Fatah activists ahead of the polls.
Established by the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in 1965, Shuafat is the only refugee camp located within the boundaries of the Jerusalem Municipality.
Hatem Abdel Qader, a veteran Fatah official and former PA minister, complained that only two candidates from east Jerusalem were on the faction’s list. “The Fatah leadership does not care about Jerusalem,” he charged.
Another senior Fatah official from east Jerusalem, Talal Abu Afifeh, also complained about the lack of representation of Jerusalem Arabs in the faction’s list. “Sadly, Jerusalem, the occupied capital, is not sufficiently represented in the list,” he said. “On the other hand, the presence of weak figures on the list does not bode well for Fatah. I believe that Fatah won’t win more than 30 seats in the 132-member Palestinian Legislative Council.”
The crisis in Fatah reached its peak last week after the faction’s jailed leader, Marwan Barghouti, decided to join forces with Nasser al-Kidwa, a nephew of Yasser Arafat and former PA foreign minister.
Kidwa was recently expelled from Fatah after announcing his intention to form his own list for the parliamentary election. The Barghouti-Kidwa alliance is seen by many Palestinians as a major threat to Abbas’s rule over Fatah.
Barghouti, who is serving a five-life term sentence plus 40 years in an Israeli prison for his role in terrorist attacks during the Second Intifada, is not running in the parliamentary election. Instead, his wife, Fadwa Barghouti, is No. 2 on the Barghouti-Kidwa list.
Barghouti’s associates said that he is planning to present his candidacy for the PA presidential election, slated for July 31.
A third Fatah-affiliated list contesting the parliamentary election is headed by Mohammed Dahlan, an archrival of Abbas who was expelled from Fatah 10 years ago. The list, called Al-Mustaqbal (The Future), consists of dozens of disgruntled Fatah activists from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.
“The Fatah house is on fire,” warned Sirhan Dweikat, a senior Fatah official in the West Bank. “Those who ignited the fire must extinguish it. Fatah is devouring its own sons. Fatah is burning.”