Senior officials of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction have expressed opposition to the idea of running in a joint list with Hamas in the parliamentary election on May 22.
Over the past few days, sources close to Fatah and Hamas said they did not rule out the possibility that the two rival groups would form a joint list to run in the election for parliament, known as the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).
Nasser al-Qudwa, a member of the Fatah Central Committee and a nephew of former PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, rejected the talk about a joint list with Hamas, saying it was “undemocratic and politically impossible.”
Discussions about a joint Fatah-Hamas list smacks of “opportunism and personal interests at the expense of the interests of the Palestinian people,” he said.
Other Fatah operatives said they were “surprised” to hear about the idea of joining forces with Hamas.
“This is a very bad idea,” said a veteran Fatah representative in Ramallah. “How can Fatah run with Hamas in a joint list before solving the dispute between the two parties? What about the political and ideological differences between Fatah and Hamas?”
The Fatah Central Committee was scheduled to hold a meeting in Ramallah on Sunday to discuss the possibility of forming a joint list with Hamas. The committee was also expected to discuss the possibility that Abbas, who also heads Fatah, would run for the presidential election on July 31.
Last week, PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh raised eyebrows in Fatah when he announced that Abbas, 85, was the faction’s candidate for the presidential election. A member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council said many faction members believe Abbas must pave the way for other candidates to run for the position in the election.
According to the official, many Fatah members are also opposed to the idea of forming a joint list with Hamas.
“If that happens, you will see many Fatah members run as independents in the parliamentary election,” he said. “If Fatah and Hamas want to unite, they can do so after the election in the context of a national-unity government.”
Fatah and Hamas leaders are expected to meet in Cairo next month to discuss preparations for the general elections and the possibility of running in a joint list.
Some Palestinians said the idea of forming a joint Fatah-Hamas list was apparently designed to avoid another Hamas victory in the parliamentary election.
In the last legislative election, held in 2006, Hamas’s Change and Reform list received 44.45% of the vote and won 74 of the 132 PLC seats. Fatah received 41.43% of the vote and won 45 seats.
The Hamas victory triggered a power struggle with Fatah, which reached its peak in 2007 when the Islamist movement seized control of the Gaza Strip.
The joint-list idea is also aimed at preventing supporters of Abbas’s archrival, deposed Fatah leader Mohammad Dahlan, from scoring achievements in the parliamentary election, Palestinians said.
“Fatah is already facing a crisis,” said a Palestinian political analyst. “The crisis will escalate if the Fatah leadership decides to form a joint list with Hamas. The biggest winner will be Hamas.”
Saleh Rafat, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, said the idea of a Fatah-Hamas list would solidify the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
“This is an attempt by Fatah and Hamas leaders to hold on to power,” he said. “It also shows disregard for the will of the voters, who want to see new faces.”