Some interesting information is coming out on the Palestinian elections in the wake of Marwan Barghouti withdrawing his bid for the PA presidency. Andrew Schamess has this intriguing bit:
On Thursday, Barghouti made a suprise announcement that he would run an independent campaign for President. This threw everybody into a tizzy until he called it off late Thursday night. The best report on this, I thought, was on National Public Radio. The trade-off, it appears, was that Fatah will hold new elections for its ruling Revolutionary Council, for the first time in fifteen years. This will certainly give the younger generation greater power in the organization.
What will this mean for Palestinian policies? Firstly, the younger generation has pressed for more efficient government and an end to patronage and corruption in the Palestinian Authority. Secondly, those raised on armed struggle against an oppressive regime are not likely to lay down their arms and accept whatever compromise suits Israel’s purposes. As Barghouti put it, he stands for resistance and negotiation; Abbas for negotiation without resistance. A third possible consequence, if Barghouti and his constituents are successful, is that a reinvigorated Fatah will regain its credibility among disaffected Palestinians who have gravitated toward Hamas in the past decade.
As for Hamas, Helena Cobban has translated a piece Saida Hamad in East Jerusalem wrote for Hayat which seems to indicate that Hamas may negotiate some quid pro quo on elections at the local level in return for not opposing Abu Mazen, which strategy has been effective for Hizbullah in Lebanon. Read the rest of Helena’s piece for more detail on the possibility of a “Free Barghouti” campaign being part Barghouti’s price for refraining from running for PA president. As for the other likely price, how about Vice President Barghouti on the Fatah ticket?
The info about the possible “Free Barghouthi” campaign. As you can see from the translation I provided, the “old guard” guys in Fateh reportedly promised this to Marwan as part of the quid pro quo they offered him in return for him agreeing not only not stand against Abu Mazen in the January elections, but also (gulp), actually to support him… The other parts of the quid pro quo were: (a ) A commitment to hold the 16th meeting of Fateh’s policymaking General Conference no later than August, so that both the Central Committee and (I assume) the Revolutionary Council can be renewed there through democratic means… (In contrast to much past practice.) Plus (b) the possibility that in connection with the “Free Barghouthi” campaign, Abu Mazen would name Marwan as his “Vice Presidential” candidate in the PA election…So far, it looks as though Marwan drove a pretty hard bargain…