Israel Accuses Palestinian Authority of Meddling in Its Election
A PA official encouraged the majority-Arab parties to run in Israel’s upcoming elections on a joint list
Israel is accusing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of interfering in its upcoming national elections, over a meeting with members of Israeli Arab political parties during which they were urged to run in the elections on a joint list.
The accusation prompted the Shin Bet to issue “a severe warning” to the PA to not intervene in Israel’s elections, scheduled for November 1.
PA General Intelligence chief Majed Faraj reportedly convened a meeting with leaders of the majority-Arab Joint List party, in an effort to persuade them to rejoin forces with the Islamist United Arab List-Raam party; however, Palestinian officials in Ramallah deny the allegations that election interference was their intent.
We don’t interfere in Israel or anyone’s internal politics
“It’s important for us that Arab politicians are united because that will result in high Arab turnout in the next election,” a Palestinian official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the subject, told The Media Line. “We don’t interfere in Israel or anyone’s internal politics,” he added.
Wadee’ Awawdeh, a political analyst based in Nazareth, told The Media Line that the position of the PA is public, adding that there is a Palestinian interest in the formation of a government in Israel that “meets the minimum demands of the Palestinian people to end the occupation and achieve independence.”
“There is a broad Palestinian consensus that rightly believes that such Palestinian-Palestinian meetings are important for their unity, regardless of the reason, whether it is an Israeli election or another. So, there is nothing new about this issue. Palestinian parties have previously met at different levels for discussion and consultation,” Awawdeh said.
Arab politicians are engulfed with several disputes among themselves, but more so with Raam.
Turnout among Arab citizens of Israel was highest when all four majority Arab parties ran together, with the Joint List of all four parties winning 15 seats in the 2020 election.
Awawdeh wonders why Israel believes Abbas has the ability to affect the outcome of the elections.
“I’m surprised that there are question marks about such meetings, but I understand the Israeli accusations, that is sifting for sensationalism, and also looking for an external enemy to accuse of influencing the results of the Israeli elections,” he said.
One thing Palestinians agree on is that they don’t want to see former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu back in the premier’s seat.
An official with Raam told The Media Line that joining the Joint List is “unlikely.”
The Islamist party led by Mansour Abbas broke away from the Joint List saying it wants to focus on domestic matters, and improve living conditions for the party’s constituents, including Bedouin in the southern Negev desert.
The other three parties have made the Palestinian issue the top of their agendas.
The Raam party chief faced backlash from some Arabs for joining the last unlikely coalition government, the first ever backed by an Arab party.
But not everyone agrees that Arab political parties in Israel will be influenced by such meetings. Hasan Awwad, a US-based Palestinian affairs expert, told The Media Line that the Arab parties “will do what is in their best interest in the end.”
“They also have to pay attention to what their base tells them,” Awwad explained.
“There’s real fear that the Joint List may break up this time because of the deep division among the three parties making up the bloc, and that will force the heads of these parties to reconsider their positions based on what satisfies their constituency,” Awwad said.
Arab citizens of Israel are split over what their leadership must make top of agenda. While some are demanding more focus on local issues like housing, education and employment, others want to see the Palestinian cause in a prominent position.
Voting among Arab citizens of Israel has declined considerably in recent years; in the last election it was less than 50%.
Israel is set to hold its fifth election in some four and a half years on November 1.