Rival wings of the ruling Palestinian movement Fatah have presented a joint list of candidates for next month’s general election to try to end a damaging split.
Palestinian uprising leader Marwan Barghouthi, who is jailed by Israel, headed the list of candidates submitted to the Palestinian Central Elections Committee by representatives of the rival factions. Most of the candidates appeared to be younger generation Fatah leaders, who are popular on the Palestinian street and might help Fatah pull in more votes with the mainstream party facing an election challenge by Hamas. Earlier, at a Gaza City election office Palestinian police traded fire with gunmen from Fatah who were demanding changes to a proposed list of candidates. At a meeting in Gaza yesterday, President Mahmoud Abbas tried to get militant groups to stop rocket attacks on Israel. Islamic Jihad reportedly rejected a ceasefire and Hamas suggested its restraint could end if the January 25 election is delayed. Abbas’ Fatah grouping has been in disarray since a group of younger members led by Barghouti broke away following a row with the so-called old guard about the direction the party should take.