Palestinian elections: Fatah fails in bid to block rival candidates

Critics claimed that the Fatah objections were politically motivated with the goal of preventing its political rivals from participating in the vote.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas  (photo credit: FLASH90)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas
(photo credit: FLASH90)
Attempts by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction to block political rivals from running in the May 22 parliamentary elections suffered a major blow on Sunday when the Palestinian Central Elections Commission rejected its appeals against the nomination of dozens of candidates.
Fatah representatives last week submitted objections to candidates whose names appeared on electoral lists belonging to Hamas, exiled Fatah leader Mohammad Dahlan and Nasser al-Kidwa, a former PA foreign minister who formed an alliance with jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti.
Dahlan was expelled from Fatah in 2011 after a fallout with Abbas. He has since been living in the United Arab Emirates, and his Fatah supporters are running in the elections on a list called Al-Mustaqbal (The Future). Dahlan himself is not running in the parliamentary elections.
Kidwa, a nephew of former PLO leader Yasser Arafat, was recently expelled from Fatah after he announced his intention to form his own electoral list together with Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences in Israeli prison for his role in terrorism during the Second Intifada.
Critics said the Fatah objections were politically motivated with the goal of preventing its political rivals from participating in the vote.
The commission said it had rejected 226 out of 231 objections submitted by Fatah and other parties against lists and candidates nominated for the parliamentary elections.
The objections addressed various alleged violations, including failure to submit resignations, claims of criminal convictions and abuses of power and state resources, objections to candidates for holding Israeli citizenship, sources of funding for electoral lists, nomination applications submitted after the legal deadline and against a political party for failing to secure proper licensing, according to the commission.
“The commission confirmed that it had reviewed all of the submitted objections and decided to reject 226 cases, while four others were withdrawn,” the commission said. “One objection against a female candidate was approved, resulting in her candidacy being canceled due to acquiring Israeli citizenship, which violates the provisions of the Decree Law No. (1) of 2007 concerning the general elections and its amendments.”
The woman, a resident of east Jerusalem, was a candidate on the Kidwa-Barghouti list, Al-Hurriya (The Freedom).
At least half of the objections were submitted by Fatah as part of an attempt to prevent candidates affiliated with Hamas, Dahlan and the Kidwa-Barghouti slate from running in the elections, Palestinian sources said.
Fatah objected to the nomination of some candidates on the pretext that they had been convicted of “insulting” senior Palestinian officials, the sources said.
One of the Fatah objections concerned Sheikh Khaled Barahmeh, a candidate on the Hamas electoral list who had condemned Abbas for attending the funeral of former president Shimon Peres in Jerusalem.
Fatah also appealed against the nomination of some Hamas candidates on the grounds that they had failed to submit their resignations from NGOs and other institutions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This appeal was rejected by the Central Elections Commission.
Fatah also failed in its bid to disqualify some of Dahlan’s candidates for various reasons, including “insulting” senior Palestinian officials and joining a breakaway group, a reference to the exiled Fatah leader’s movement, Democratic Reform Current.