Will Nasser al-Qudwa be the darkish horse of Palestinian presidential race?

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Feb 23, 2021

Palestinian politics bought much more sophisticated this week, with Fatah Central Committee member and former Palestinian Foreign Minister Nasser al-Qudwa insisting on his opposition to the official Fatah electoral technique whereas linking his political future to that of imprisoned chief Marwan Barghouti.

The newest try by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to persuade Qudwa to not run on a separate checklist has didn’t pave the way in which for a doable problem within the upcoming May 22 elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).

Qudwa, who spent a few years on the United Nations representing Palestine and had a run as a UN peace envoy to Syria, seems set to steer an alternate Palestinian nationalist checklist to the upcoming elections in direct defiance of and some say threats from Abbas to not run exterior the official checklist. Speaking at a digital convention organized by Bir Zeit University Feb. 19 on US President Joe Biden’s overseas coverage, Qudwa stated elections require way more preparation and deeper dialogue with different nationwide forces, enterprise leaders, civil society and different energetic forces in Palestinian society. He dismissed any cooperation with Mohammed Dahlan.

While Qudwa has linked his political future with the imprisoned Barghouti, he seems to have opposed his reluctance to take part within the legislative elections. “We are fully with Marwan, but he needs to take a position in this political dialogue (meaning the legislative elections), and he can’t escape responsibility by saying leave me for the presidential run.” Qudwa continued, “If he wants to run for president, we are with him. But he needs to be part of this process.”

Hamadeh Faraneh, a member of the Palestine National Council, reacted in a commentary within the Jordanian each day Addustour Feb. 22, saying that Qudwa and Barghouti can’t function with out a political cowl from Fatah, Hamas or each — and even Dahlan, even when he plans to run on a separate checklist.

Qudwa’s insistence on hitching his future with Barghouti’s is logical considering the fact that Barghouti, in jail now for 19 years, polls higher than any other Palestinian.

Last September, in a poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Research, Barghouti received 61% of the vote versus only 32% for Ismail Haniyeh, while the Hamas leader has polled defeating Abbas by three points. In a subsequent December poll, Barghouti again polled beating the Hamas leader by nine percentage points. Hamas is unlikely to challenge either in the presidential race due to take place July 30.

Barghouti was reportedly provided to move the Fatah checklist for the legislative council and to decide on 10 of the Fatah candidates. Fatah Central Committee member Hussein Sheikh visited Barghouti on Feb. 11 in jail to make him this offer, but he was unsuccessful in convincing him to give up running for president.

According to Palestinian Basic Law, the speaker of the PLC will become acting president for 60 days once the president resigns or is unable to continue his duties. Barghouti feels that if he is elected as Palestinian president, this would help accelerate his release. He is held in an Israeli jail on multiple life sentences, convicted of having a role in ordering fatal attacks against Israelis during the second Palestinian intifada.

Another jailed Palestinian chief, Ahmad Saadat, plans to move the checklist of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and if elected he’ll resign to run for president as effectively. Saadat was convicted of having ordered the assassination of far-right-wing Israeli Minister Rehavam Ze’eve, which occurred following Israel’s assassination of then-leader of the PFLP Abu Ali Mustafa in October 2001.

Qudwa, a nephew of late Palestinian chief Yasser Arafat, runs the Yasser Arafat Foundation and is seen as a well-respected potential chief due to his huge worldwide expertise. He resigned from the Fatah Central Committee in May 2018, solely to return later after his colleagues within the committee satisfied him to withdraw his resignation. Unlike Saadat and Barghouti, he has by no means served in an Israeli jail and wishes the connection of Barghouti to strengthen his native credentials.

The possible elections of Qudwa in a separate list for the upcoming legislative or presidential run is still a long shot. But in the internal Palestinian struggle for the post-Abbas leadership of Palestinians, Qudwa could be the dark horse that can come from behind, hitching on the coattails of an imprisoned and popular Palestinian leader who will not be able to actually assume power until he is released from jail.