Israeli arrests in West Bank threaten to disrupt Palestinian elections
If Israel continues to obstruct vote, it must expect devastating results, Palestinian scholar says
[Gaza City] In recent months, Israeli forces in the West Bank have arrested a number of Palestinian citizens and candidates in parliamentary elections scheduled for May 22. Monday evening, in the last incident, Najeh Asi, member of Hamas’ Al-Quds [Jerusalem] Is Our Destiny ”, was taken into custody in Ramallah.
Fatah activists were also arrested, including Awad al-Salaymeh and Ahed al-Risheq, who were arrested earlier this month before holding a consultative meeting on the legislative vote in East Jerusalem.
Palestinians view Israeli actions as gross violations of their rights and arbitrary measures designed to derail the elections.
“Asi’s arrest… reflects the barbarism of the occupation, which is based on terror and intimidation, and is an attempt to influence election results in advance, but these arrests will fail to breaking the resolve of our people, ”Alaa Hmaidan, spokesperson for Al-Quds is our destiny, said Tuesday.
On the same day, Hamas issued a statement confirming that there would be no withdrawal from the electoral battle: “Our Palestinian people will have their say through the ballot box and choose their leadership that restores cohesion and leads the way. ‘stage of national liberation.’
Munir al-Jaghoub, a spokesperson for Fatah, the ruling Palestinian Authority party, told The Media Line: “The occupation’s arrest of candidates on Palestinian electoral lists is part of a campaign aggressive aimed at thwarting the elections, but does not prevent our people, leaders and factions from continuing to prepare for the elections and follow the program prepared by the Election Commission, and [will not prevent Palestinian] prisoners [held by Israel] to keep running despite all Israeli attempts to derail the process.
Elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council were held in 1996 and 2006. Both times, the Israeli authorities allowed residents of East Jerusalem to vote at Israeli post offices in the city. No response has yet been issued regarding a request to do the same for the parliamentary vote in May.
The Israeli government fears that Hamas will win the elections, and there are growing calls to prevent the vote in Jerusalem, which could lead the Palestinian Authority to cancel the elections altogether.
On April 6, Major General Kamil Abu Rukun, who completed his tenure as head of the Government Activities in the Territories Unit of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, said in an interview with the Kan public broadcaster Five Days Plus early: very big mistake to go to these elections because of the high risk that Hamas will win, and therefore all that serves that [a Hamas victory] – my recommendation is not to accept it.
Abu Rukun warned that Israel “will stop everything” – that is, all security coordination – if Hamas wins the parliamentary elections. “That will at least be my recommendation, based on events that have happened in the past and what I see on the ground,” he said.
Yet fear of a Hamas victory is not the only factor behind the increase in Israeli detentions in the West Bank and Jerusalem, according to Ahmad Awad, writer and director of the Future Studies Center at the Open University of Al-. Quds.
He believes that Israel’s arrest campaign has several motivations.
“First, to disrupt the Palestinian electoral process. And second, to provoke security tensions, especially in the West Bank, by drawing Palestinians into uncontrolled reactions. And finally, to confuse the candidates and the voters, ”Awad told The Media Line.
Wake up to the source of Trusted Mideast News Mideast Daily News Email
Israel, he said, is the biggest beneficiary of the lack of Palestinian elections, because “it wants to maintain the negative image of the Palestinians. [as] gangs and militias instead of civilized people who want to choose their representatives freely and peacefully. …
“Israel wants to transform the [Fatah-Hamas] division into a complete separation [between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip], and thus continue its colonization activities and escape all kinds of [international] resolutions, under the pretext of not finding representatives for the Palestinians, ”Awad said.
As Israel continues to remain silent on allowing Palestinian elections to be held in Jerusalem, several scenarios are possible.
Awad suggests, “There might be some international pressure at some point to make this happen. [in East Jerusalem]. … However, I prefer that we do not rely on international intervention, because if the international community has no real interest in this happening [holding the election] then nothing will really change.
Another possibility is that “the Palestinians might be able to find technical solutions allowing them to hold elections without Israel’s approval / disapproval,” Awad added.
“Or,” he continued, “the people of Jerusalem themselves could act on their own, perhaps with people acting alone in ways we don’t expect.
The last scenario, Awad continued, is that “the elections might not take place at all due to Israeli refusal, thus creating a new subject of engagement between Israelis and Palestinians.”
He does not rule out the possibility of popular violence as a result.
“It’s a historical equation: desperation and frustration can lead to nonsense, violence, anything, for that matter. When Israel denies Palestinians the right to hold elections, it drives them into frustration. He must expect devastating results, ”Awad said.
There are signs on the ground that support this theory and increased chances of an escalation imminent.
Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar revealed on Tuesday, citing Hamas sources, that the movement had conveyed a message to an Egyptian delegation in Gaza to discuss the “security calm” and prisoners’ files that an explosion in the situation in the Gaza Strip. Gaza Strip, in the form of both popular and military actions, “is highly possible if the occupation prevents elections, especially in Jerusalem.”