Fatah intensifies efforts to postpone elections fearing a Hamas win

Middle East Monitor  /  April 20, 2021

A member of Fatah’s Central Committee is pressuring Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails to call for postponing the upcoming elections if Israel bans them in Jerusalem, Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar revealed yesterday.

Sama news agency reported Al-Akhbar saying that sources close to the jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti revealed that pressure was being applied on prisoners so the elections can be put on hold as a result of the national crisis.

The sources said that a number of Fatah prisoners refused to back the statement and were threatened, particularly after several polls forecast that Hamas is expected to win a majority in parliament once again.

The newspaper also said that the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah has been working to persuade Arab states, the EU, and the US to accept its efforts to postpone the elections on the premise that they cannot go ahead if Israel does not allow Palestinians in Jerusalem to partake.

According to the same sources, Washington has not yet made a decision on the matter, but US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has previously told Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi that America would not take any position that harms Tel Aviv.

Israeli news website Walla has reported that the US administration is worried about Hamas winning the election.

The newspaper added that PA President Mahmoud Abbas has dispatched his Foreign Minister Riyadh Al Maliki to Europe to stress that Jerusalem “is a red line” and no elections will be held without it. This, it added, would allow the elections to be postponed without the PA being blamed for the decision.

Legislative elections were last held in the Palestinian territories on 25 January 2006 in order to elect the second Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), the legislature of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). The result was a victory for Hamas.

Abbas and his Fatah party refused to concede power to the movement, he has remained in his position of president since and no elections have been called. On the ground, however, Abbas’ Fatah party controls the occupied West Bank, while Hamas governs the besieged Gaza Strip with efforts being made to unite the Palestinian factions to help improve the lives of Palestinians.