A significant Palestinian faction has withdrawn from May’s municipal elections in the Palestinian areas of the West Bank to protest against the Palestinian Authority security services’ handling of recent protests.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which is classified as a terror group by Israel, said on Tuesday that it denounced the “suppressive” measures used by PA forces against protesters demonstrating against PA security cooperation with Israel. Media reports said that PA security officers used tear gas, batons, and rubber bullets against demonstrators.
The protests started after 31-year-old Basel al-Araj was killed last week after he shot at Israeli soldiers attempting to arrest him. Al-Araj and five others were imprisoned by the PA last year for possessing weapons and intending to carry out attacks in Israel.
PFLP politburo member Khalida Jarrar, who is also a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said Tuesday that the faction would only consider re-engaging with the electoral process if PA security officers were held accountable. She threatened “political steps” against the PA’s “suppression and political coordination.”
The PA announced earlier this month that municipal elections on May 13 will take place only in the PA-controlled West Bank and not the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. This led to Hamas’ withdrawal from the election.
Hamas agreed in July to participate in the municipal elections, which would have been the first time Hamas and Fatah had contested an election since 2006, when Hamas won a majority in the Palestinian Legislative Council. The municipal vote was viewed as a possible precursor to a full parliamentary election.
Hamas violently seized control of the Gaza Strip from Fatah in 2007, and relations between the two have been bitter ever since. Reconciliation and unity agreements between the two factions have since been agreed but never fully implemented.
[Photo: BICOM ]