Palestinian elections: Turmoil hits Abbas’s Fatah ahead of elections

The alliance between Barghouti and Kidwa is seen by many Palestinians as a major challenge to Abbas and the Fatah leadership.

Jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti would win elections for Palestinian president according to a poll held in early summer by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion. (photo credit: REUTERS/BAZ RATNER)
Jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti would win elections for Palestinian president according to a poll held in early summer by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion.
(photo credit: REUTERS/BAZ RATNER)
The crisis in the ruling Fatah faction intensified on Wednesday as two of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s political rivals, Marwan Barghouti and Nasser al-Kidwa, agreed to join forces ahead of the upcoming parliamentary election.
Barghouti and Kidwa struck a deal to run in the election under a unified list called Al-Huriyya (Freedom), Palestinian sources said.
Hani al-Masri, a prominent Palestinian political analyst, confirmed that Barghouti and Kidwa have agreed to run together in the election.
“I’m honored to be part of the list,” Masri said. “I hope the list will contribute to much-needed changes in the Palestinian political system.”
The alliance between Barghouti and Kidwa is seen by many Palestinians as a major challenge to Abbas and the Fatah leadership.
The new list consists of more than 60 candidates, including Barghouti’s wife, Fadwa, the sources added.
Scores of Fatah activists announced that they would vote for the Barghouti-Kidwa slate and not for the faction’s official list.
The split in Fatah boosts Hamas’s chances of scoring a victory in the election, as was the case in the 2006 parliamentary vote.
Earlier this week, Hamas unveiled its own unified list for the parliamentary election.
The election for the 132-seat Palestinian Legislative Council is scheduled to take place on May 22, while the PA presidency poll has been set for July 31.
The turmoil in Fatah could drive Abbas to delay or cancel the elections, according to some Palestinian political activists.
Abbas, 86, also heads the Fatah Central Committee, the faction’s highest decision-making body.
Barghouti, a senior Fatah official, is serving five life terms plus 40 years in Israeli prison for his role in the murder of five people during the Second Intifada.
On Tuesday, sources close to Barghouti announced that he would form his own list for the parliamentary election.
The announcement came after Barghouti’s associates accused the Fatah leadership of failing to fulfill its promise to consult with him about the composition of the faction’s electoral list.
Kidwa, a nephew of former PLO leader Yasser Arafat, was recently expelled from Fatah after he announced his intention to run in the parliamentary election on a separate list called National Democratic Assembly.
Kidwa, a former PA foreign minister, said that he would support Barghouti if and when the imprisoned Fatah leader contested the presidential election.
A third Fatah-affiliated list contesting the parliamentary vote is headed by Mohammad Dahlan, an archrival of Abbas who was also expelled from Fatah after a fallout with the PA president.
Dahlan, a former PA security commander in the Gaza Strip, has been living in the United Arab Emirates since 2011.
Earlier this week, Dahlan’s supporters submitted their own list to the Palestinian Central Elections Commission.
The deadline for submitting electoral lists for the PLC vote expires Wednesday at midnight.
A Fatah official told The Jerusalem Post that sharp differences erupted among the faction’s veteran leaders regarding the composition of the list.
In the past few days, several Fatah representatives announced that they withdrew their names from the faction’s official list.
One of those who withdrew their candidacy was Fuad Shobaki, 82, who was arrested by the IDF in 2006 and sentenced to 17 years in prison on charges of attempting to smuggle a weapons ship into the Gaza Strip.
“I announce my withdrawal from the faction’s list not for any personal goal, but to pave the way for those who consider themselves qualified to serve the interests of our people,” Shobaki said in a statement.
He warned the Fatah leadership of repeating the “previous mistakes” that resulted in Fatah’s defeat in the 2006 election.