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People lose in Palestine power game

Sep 10,2016 - Last updated at Sep 10,2016

A pro-Fateh judge issued a court order in Ramallah temporarily suspending Palestinian municipal elections, due this October.

Expectations about such a move were evident when Hamas mobilised its cadres to run for the majority of the 416 municipalities in the West Bank and Gaza. 

Qatari support and Turkish solidarity manifested themselves in millions of dollars in subsidies and donations to woo prospective voters to choose Hamas candidates.

Mohammad Dahlan, with his strong base among Fateh cadres in Gaza and the West Bank, used his United Arab Emirates connections, where he resides now, to solidify his grip on domestic Palestinian politics, showing that he is the man to replace President Mahmoud Abbas, aged 84, who has alienated many Fateh cadres who criticised his overstay in office by four years, without legal empowerment from any representatives of the Palestinian people.

Pro-Iranian Islamic Jihad fielded some candidates for some of the 25 municipalities in Gaza. 

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine endorsed some candidates with family or tribal support in areas where tribal loyalty is stronger than service-oriented criteria as in main towns and cities.

Hamas boycotted the 2012 municipal elections, accusing its main rival, Fateh, of lacking transparency.

Now Fateh is accusing Hamas of lack of transparency in conducting the nomination process among the candidates in Gaza.

And the price is being paid by the rest of the Palestinians who have been denied a chance to participate in fair elections since 2006.

No democratic elections have been held to choose representatives within the Palestinian Authority since the Oslo Accords of 1993.

Within the West Bank, or in the diaspora, legislative bodies of the Palestine Liberation Organisation have been the same for tens of years.

This political stagnation does not befit the image of the Palestinian people, with the highest rate of university graduates and political scientists within the Arab world.

Municipal elections could be one conduit for political rejuvenation in the occupied territories; they might spark hope for an alternative to what is being inflicted upon the new generations.

It is true that Dahlan’s Fateh has a well-organised infrastructure in the 25 municipal centres in Gaza, and it is evident that Hamas has a highly organised infra structure in many of the 419 municipal centres in the West Bank.

The court order for temporary suspension of municipal elections came days after the Arab League threatened to interfere directly through the Arab Quartet to force the return of those in the high echelons who were dismissed by Abbas, including Mohammed Dahlan, in order to stop the deteriorating situation.

Municipal elections, which might lead to a big victory for Hamas, are the justification for the Arab Quartet to interfere directly in the Palestinian decision-making process.

 

But that would not reflect well on the image of a great people like the Palestinians.

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