Abbas's Plan to Steal Local Elections
According to Hamas officials, there can be no free and fair elections in the West Bank while Abbas is cracking down on anyone who dares to challenge him. Also, Fatah's decision to hold local elections only in the West Bank is an admission that the Palestinians have two separate entities: the West Bank and Gaza. UN members next month should ask Abbas when he applies to upgrade the status of a Palestinian state to "non-member," which state he is talking about -- the one in the West Bank or the one in the Gaza Strip?
After repeated delays, Palestinians in the West Bank are scheduled to hold local elections on October 20 for 245 village councils and 98 municipalities.
In recent weeks, the Fatah leadership has been working hard to ensure that its candidates win the local elections.
Since the first free and democratic Palestinian local elections were held in 1976 under the Israeli military government, the Palestinians have had only one local election -- in 2005.
The 2005 elections saw Hamas candidates score major victories in most West Bank cities, including Nablus, Kalkilya, Bethlehem and Tulkarem.
This year's elections, however, are being boycotted by Hamas, leaving its rival Fatah faction as the main contender.
Hamas's decision to boycott the upcoming vote was, ironically, one of the main reasons why the Palestinian Authority leadership decided to go ahead with the elections.
When Hamas announced its decision to boycott the local elections, there was a sigh of relief in Ramallah.
The Palestinian leadership in the West Bank wants to avoid a repeat of the 2005 election, which saw Hamas candidates take over many village councils and municipalities.
Fatah is instead being challenged by independent candidates and representatives of some PLO groups, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and the People's (Communist) Party.
The question now is not whether Fatah would win the vote, but how large the victory will be.
To ensure a landslide victory, the Fatah leadership, headed by Abbas, has taken a number of measures aimed at weakening its rivals.
First, Fatah has dismissed about 50 of its members who decided to run as on an independent ticket in the elections.
Among those who were dismissed is Ghassan Shaka'a, a prominent Fatah figure from Nablus who has decided to contest the vote outside his faction's framework. Shaka'a, a former Nablus mayor, has angered Abbas and the Fatah leadership by running as an independent candidate.
Second, Fatah has decided to suspend funds to the other PLO groups that are running against Fatah in the local elections.
Until last month, these groups, especially the PFLP and DFLP, used to receive regular funding from the PLO leadership, although most of them are opposed to the Oslo Accords and peace talks with Israel.
Abbas is hoping that the dismissal of unruly Fatah candidates and the suspension of funds to his political rivals will guarantee his loyalists a smooth victory.
Abbas's efforts to take over the village councils and municipalities began long before the date was set for the local elections.
Over the past few years, Abbas's government and security forces have dismissed and arrested several elected mayors and members of municipal councils who were affiliated with Hamas or other rival groups.
This is, in fact, one of the main reasons why Hamas says it decided to boycott this year's elections. According to Hamas officials, there can be no free and fair elections in the West Bank while Abbas is cracking down on anyone who dares to challenge him.
Fatah's decision to hold local elections only in the West Bank is an admission that the Palestinians have two separate entities: the West Bank and Gaza. Abbas's critics say that by insisting on going ahead with the vote, he has "solidified" the split between the Fatah-controlled West Bank and the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.
This is something that the UN General Assembly will have to take into consideration when it is scheduled next month to vote on Abbas's application to upgrade the status of a Palestinian state to "non-member." The UN members should ask Abbas which state he is talking about -- the one in the West Bank or the one in the Gaza Strip?
Comment on this item
by Richard Kemp
Would General Allen -- or any other general today -- recommend contracting out his country's defenses if it were his country at stake? Of course not.
The Iranian regime remains dedicated to undermining and ultimately destroying the State of Israel. The Islamic State also has Israel in its sights and would certainly use the West Bank as a point from which to attack, if it were open to them.
There can be no two-state solution and no sovereign Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan, however desirable those things might be. The stark military reality is that Israel cannot withdraw its forces from the West Bank.
Fatah leaders ally themselves with the terrorists of Hamas, and, like Hamas, they continue to reject the every existence of the State of Israel.
If Western leaders actually want to help, they should use all diplomatic and economic means to make it clear to the Palestinians that they will never achieve an independent and sovereign state while they remain set on the destruction of the State of Israel.
by Louis René Beres
The Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO], forerunner of today's Palestinian Authority, was founded in 1964, three years before Israel came into the unintended control of the West Bank and Gaza. What therefore was the PLO planning to "liberate"?
Why does no one expect the Palestinians to cease all deliberate and random violence against Israeli civilians before being considered for admission to statehood?
On June 30, 1922, a joint resolution of both Houses of Congress of the United States endorsed a "Mandate for Palestine," confirming the right of Jews to settle anywhere they chose between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. This is the core American legacy of support for a Jewish State that President Obama now somehow fails to recall.
A sovereign state of Palestine, as identified by the Arabs -- a Muslim land occupied by "Palestinian" Arabs -- has never existed; not before 1948, and not before 1967. From the start, it was, and continues to be, the Arab states -- not Israel -- that became the core impediment to Palestinian sovereignty.
by Timon Dias
It looks as if this new law is meant to serve as a severe roadblock to parties that would like to dismantle the EU in a democratic and peaceful way from within.
A rather dull semantic trick pro-EU figures usually apply, is calling their opponents "anti-Europe."
by Alan M. Dershowitz
by Soeren Kern
Austria has emerged as a major base for radical Islam and as a central hub for European jihadists to fight in Syria.
The proposed revisions would, among other changes, regulate the training and hiring of Muslim clerics, prohibit the foreign funding of mosques, and establish an official German-language version of the Koran to prevent its "misinterpretation" by Islamic extremists.
Muslims would be prohibited from citing Islamic sharia law as legal justification for ignoring or disobeying Austrian civil laws.
Leaders of Austria's Muslim community counter that the contemplated new law amounts to "institutionalized Islamophobia."
Official statistics show that nearly 60% of the inhabitants of Vienna are immigrants or foreigners. The massive demographic and religious shift underway in Austria, traditionally a Roman Catholic country, appears irreversible.