Radical W. Bank leader mulls run for PA president

Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi, who recently established new Palestinian political party, is nephew of Islamic Jihad founder.

Sheikh Tayseer al-Tamimi in France 370 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS)
Sheikh Tayseer al-Tamimi in France 370 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A radical Islamic leader from Hebron indicated on Tuesday that he was considering running in the next Palestinian presidential election.
Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi, a former Palestinian Authority chief judge of Islamic Courts, is a nephew of Sheikh As’ad Tamimi, founder and spiritual leader of Islamic Jihad. Israel deported the uncle to Jordan in 1969.
The would-be candidate’s father, Sheikh Rajab Tamimi, was deported by Israel to Lebanon following the murder of six Jewish settlers in the center of Hebron in 1980.
The father had served as imam of the Ibrahimi Mosque (the Tomb of the Patriarchs) when the terrorist attack took place. He was accused of incitement and calling for the destruction of Israel.
Last week, Tayseer Tamimi, who was previously affiliated with Hamas, surprised Palestinians when he announced the formation of a new political group called Party of Freedom and Independence.
The PA announced earlier this week that Tamimi had not received a license to establish a political party.
“I don’t rule out running for president of the State of Palestine,” Tamimi said. “I have received many requests to run for president.”
Sources in Hebron said he has gathered signatures from 4,000 Palestinians backing his candidacy.
No date has been set for presidential elections in the Palestinian territories.
The last such vote was held in 2005, when Mahmoud Abbas was elected.
Although his term in office expired in January 2009, Abbas has cited differences between Fatah and Hamas as an excuse for not holding new elections.
Tamimi, 60, was at the center of a scandal that erupted in 2010, when a woman lodged a complaint against him for sexual harassment.
The scandal broke out after former Palestinian intelligence officer Fahmi Shabaneh said that Tamimi had exploited his position to sexually harass a woman who came to his office seeking work.
Tamimi, who has vehemently denied the allegation, was forced into retirement a few weeks later.
Although he held a senior position in the PA, Tamimi often expressed radical views that did not reflect public statements made by Yasser Arafat and other PA officials after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 2003.
In 2009, Tamimi declared that there was no proof that Jews “had a history or presence” in Jerusalem. He had also issued fatwas banning Muslims from selling property to Jews.
During an interfaith dialogue in Jerusalem in May 2000 with Pope Benedict XVI, Tamimi launched into a 10-minute verbal assault on Israel, calling on Christians and Muslims to unite against it. As a result of this speech, Benedict walked out of the meeting early.
Last week, Tamimi announced that his party was working toward filing war crime charges against Britain with the UN’s International Criminal Court over the 1917 Balfour Declaration that promised the Jews a homeland in Mandatory Palestine.
In a more recent article, he wrote: “The usurping occupation should know that the land of Palestine does not belong to them. This is a blessed Arab and Islamic land.”
He also ruled that Palestinian refugees were forbidden to accept financial compensation for their lands and properties “because Palestine is wakf [Muslim trust] land that can’t be sold.”