Fatah Files United List Just Minutes Before PLC Deadline

Some 20 minutes before the cut-off time yesterday for registering candidates in the upcoming elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council (the parliament), Fatah representatives submitted their united list to the offices of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission. The list has yet to be officially published, and the matter has become a cause of concern among members of the party's new guard faction.

A senior domestic-Fatah activist who is included on the list told Haaretz that he feared the crisis in the movement had yet to pass, because it was not clear how people would react on publication of the list in full. Nevertheless, according to leaks and various assessments, the list clearly includes a majority of local Fatah members.

The list is headed by Marwan Barghouti, with the second spot filled by another lifer in jail, Mohammed Abu Ali. In third place on the list is Intisar al-Wazir (Umm Jihad).

The united list was compiled and registered some two weeks after a split in Fatah that saw representatives of the new guard break away to set up the Future faction, headed by Barghouti. The new guard representatives were unhappy with the list put together by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, charging that it did not include sufficient representation for local Fatah activists and did not honor the results of the party primaries in which the old guard won very few votes.

A week ago, on the backdrop of Hamas' recent victories in municipal elections in the territories and concern that any attempt to postpone the ballot would lead to a confrontation with the Islamic movement, Fatah officials decided to unite the two lists.

According to a report leaked on Tuesday, contrary to conditions posed by Barghouti and his new guard colleagues, the united list contained at least three members of Fatah's central committee, representatives of the party's old guard.

The leak led to a series of demonstrations and armed raids on the Central Elections Commission's offices in the West Bank and Gaza Strip both on Tuesday and yesterday, with reports of gun battles between police and armed demonstrators in Gaza City.

Yesterday, PA Chairman Abbas ordered the deployment of additional security forces around the CEC offices, instructing them to respond with gunfire to any further attempts by armed individuals to raid the locations.

A leaflet released yesterday by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades denied any affiliation with the armed demonstrators that took over the four CEC offices in the Strip, accusing them of acting contrary to Palestinian national interests.

Also on Tuesday, in Bethlehem, hundreds of Fatah activists from the Deheisheh refugee camp demonstrated, burned tires and blocked roads to protest the fact that the individual elected in first place in the primaries in the area was only given 21st spot on the party's general list. The demonstrations helped the man move into 11th place.