After 15 years of internal division, political deadlock, international disregard of the Palestinians and continuous Israel violations, Palestinians experienced a moment of hope as they dreamt of their miseries coming to an end when President Mahmoud Abbas declared his long-awaited decree setting dates for holding general Palestinian elections.
However, during the last ten days of April, Palestinians lived through moments of uncertainty when the leaks about cancelling the Palestinian elections became known. Most Palestinians did not believe, or at least persuaded themselves not to believe, these leaks after seeing Abbas and his aides reiterating their commitment to holding the elections in all Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem.
On 30 April, Palestinians were surprised with Abbas’s decision to postpone the elections, allegedly due to Israel’s rejection to holding them in occupied Jerusalem. Almost all Palestinians, political analysts and monitors did not believe Abbas, suggesting that he used Jerusalem as a pretext to cancel the elections after predicting that he and his movement Fatah would lose.
The first to disbelieve Abbas were the residents of Jerusalem, who took to the streets and chanted against him, accusing him of collaborating with the Israeli occupation, against them and their cause. While they were marching in front of the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque, they chanted for the Palestinian resistance.
Israeli journalists, who reported senior Israeli officials close to decision-makers in Israel, affirmed that the Israeli government did not announce its rejection to hold the Palestinian elections. Abbas’s senior aide, Hussein Al-Sheikh, wrote on Twitter: “The Israeli government officially informed us that the Israeli position regarding holding elections in East Jerusalem is still negative,” claiming that all reports stating the opposite were “void and incorrect”.
Israeli journalist Barak Ravid replied to Al-Sheikh’s tweet, quoting a senior Israeli official: “Israel is not intervening in the Palestinian elections and hasn’t given the Palestinians any response regarding voting in East Jerusalem.”
Another fact proving Abbas’s lies was his call for the formation of a national unity government during his speech announcing the postponement, on condition of recognising the international resolutions, including those recognising Israel, partitioning Palestine, giving up many of the Palestinian rights, as well as recognising Israel. He knows very well that Hamas will never accept this, meaning that he was not planning to sit with Hamas and other factions that do not recognise Israel or its right to Palestinian lands.
An Israeli journalist close to Benjamin Netanyahu conveyed to me that Israel and the US together had persuaded Abbas to cancel the elections because they believe that if Hamas would not have won the elections, it would at least bring enough votes to make it an essential partner in any government and its expected large bloc in parliament. Naser Naser, a Palestinian specialist in Israeli affairs, indicated that Israel and the US promised Abbas to promote him and his movement in return for delaying the elections.
If Abbas was not lying and was only acting in favour of the Holy City, he should have set a new date for the elections, regardless of the Israeli agreement to hold them here or there. If this was difficult, why did not he consider the dissolution of the Palestinian Authorities?
If Abbas denies his lie regarding the postponement of the general elections, there are many positions for Abbas towards the Palestinians and their cause, proving that he is holding the PA presidency just to serve Israel and inflict suffering and torture on the Palestinians.
Abbas has been boycotting the besieged Gaza Strip, where more than two million Palestinians live, slashing salaries of public servants, cutting oil for the sole electricity plant in Gaza, preventing the entry of most medical equipment to the coastal enclave and stopping financial coverage for the medical transfers. At the same time, he claims that he is doing everything for the sake of Gaza. This is just one of his lies.
If Abbas wanted to prove his credibility regarding the issue of Jerusalem and calling off the elections, he should unite with the Palestinian factions to stand up to the Israeli occupation.