Campaigning is underway in most Palestinian areas for the Palestinian legislative elections scheduled for January 25. Security chaos in the Gaza Strip has sapped support for Fatah, the ruling Palestinian faction dogged by allegations of corruption and mismanagement. While Fatah kicked off campaigning in Ramallah, at the site where former President Yasser Arafat is buried, the Islamist movement Hamas held a rally in Gaza City where its support is strongest.
President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday said he would postpone the Palestinians’ first general election in ten years if Israeli authorities barred voting in East Jerusalem. Israel initially said it would do so, because of the participation of Hamas, sworn to the Jewish state’s destruction. Government officials later backed away from the threat. Hamas is campaigning on an anti-corruption ticket and polls suggest it could take up to a third of the 132 parliamentary seats.
Its leaders have rejected any postponement. Sami Abu Suhri, a spokesman in Gaza City, said: “Our presence here and the start of campaigning underline that the election will go ahead and that there is a national consensus that the election process should carry on right to the end.” Meanwhile, Hanan Ashrawi, an independent Palestinian politician, was prevented from launching her campaign in East Jerusalem today.