Report: Shin Bet Asked Abbas to Scrap Palestinian Elections If Hamas Runs

YERUSHALAYIM -
Head of Shin Bet security service Nadav Argaman. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Nadav Argaman, chief of the Shin Bet, had recently urged Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to call off the upcoming Palestinian elections in the event that the Hamas terror group takes part, Channel 12 reported on Friday.

Citing a Palestinian source, the report said that the leadership of Abbas’s Fatah party dismissed Argaman’s request.

The report said the request was made in the past two weeks during a meeting in Ramallah, the PA’s seat of government.

Abbas issued a decree in January ordering the first national Palestinian elections in over 14 years. The last elections, held in 2006, resulted in a parliamentary majority for Hamas.

Hamas’s victory led to a year-and-a-half struggle for power, which ended in 2007 with the establishment of two rival Palestinian governments: Hamas in Gaza and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in Yehudah and Shomron.

The Palestinians are set to hold national legislative elections on May 22 and a presidential vote on July 31. Observers remain skeptical that the elections will actually take place, however, as several election promises have fallen through before.

On Tuesday, Palestinian factions agreed to abide by an electoral “honor code” following talks in Cairo. The factions, which included the rival Fatah and Hamas movements, pledged not to incite “religious, sectarian, tribal, regional, familial or racial sentiments” and to refrain from violent intimidation.

Also on Tuesday, a report claimed that Israel and the U.S. approached Abbas with a request to postpone the vote, citing concern that Hamas was poised to do well in the vote. Abbas declined the request.

Meanwhile, Fatah and Hamas will not run on a joint list in the Palestinian Council elections, according to an official statement from Hamas and statements by senior Fatah officials.

Fatah sources estimate that the warning issued by Argaman had significant sway on the decision to reject the possibility of establishing a joint list with Hamas.

The Fatah Central Committee decided Saturday evening that the organization would continue preparations for dealing with a single, unified list of all the organization’s factions.

A senior Hamas official, Hussam Badran, also said in an official statement on behalf of the organization that Hamas did not intend to run on a bilateral list with Fatah, since its intention was to run on a national list that would include members of the various Palestinian factions that agree on a common denominator.

It should be noted that before Abbas’ meeting with Argaman and even in recent days, senior Hamas figures have made statements about their preference for the joint list, as did Ismail Haniya, the Hamas leader in the Al-Quds newspaper. Hamas is now expected to present its separate list within days, as the list submission period will end on March 31.

On Saturday, the phase of submitting the lists to the offices of the Palestinian Election Commission in Ramallah and Gaza began, ahead of the elections to the Legislative Council, which are expected to take place on May 22. The phase of submitting the lists will continue until the end of the month and therefore the elements in the Palestinian arena are required to make decisions within a few days.

Among the Palestinian left-wing organizations, no agreement was reached on a single list after the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine demanded the first six seats.

PA intelligence warned over the weekend against spreading false messages about Fatah lists and making false use of the General Intelligence emblem to sow confusion in the street. Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Organization, a Fatah militia, also issued a threatening proclamation against one of Dahlan’s supporters who returned to the area in light of the possibility that he would run in the election.