Some Arab countries have asked Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to cancel the upcoming Palestinian general elections to avoid a Hamas victory, senior Hamas official Musa Abu Marzouk said over the weekend.
Abu Marzouk did not mention the names of the Arab countries that reportedly approached Abbas.
Reports in the Arab media, however, said that Egypt and Jordan have expressed concern over the possibility that Abbas’s strife-torn Fatah faction could lose to Hamas in the May 22 election for the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), as was the case in the last vote 15 years ago.
According to the Hamas official, the same Arab countries have also asked Abbas to patch up his differences with deposed Fatah operative Mohammed Dahlan, who is currently based in the United Arab Emirates, to prevent a Hamas victory.
“President Abbas rejected the request,” Abu Marzouk told Palestinian reporters.
“Some regional parties do not want the Palestinian elections to take place,” he said. “There’s a 40% chance that the elections may be delayed.”
Abu Marzouk said that he did not rule out the possibility that Abbas would not hold the presidential election, slated for July 31, if he feels that he may lose.
The Hamas official said that his group would not participate in the presidential election.
Hamas, he added, will run in the parliamentary election with its own list, which will be headed by senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya. Some 55% of the Hamas candidates will be from the West Bank, while the remaining 45% will be from the Gaza Strip.
Hayya, a member of Hamas’s Politburo, was elected to the PLC in 2006 as a representative of Gaza City.
Earlier reports suggested that Fatah and Hamas were considering contesting the parliamentary vote in a joint list.
Asked about the return of Dahlan loyalists to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in the past few weeks, Abu Marzouk said that the move was part of a “reconciliation” between the two sides.
Dozens of former PA security officers and Fatah activists affiliated with Dahlan who fled the Gaza Strip during the 2007 Hamas takeover of the coastal enclave were allowed to return to their homes in recent weeks. The move came as part of his loyalists’ preparations to run in the PLC election.
Dahlan, who was expelled from Fatah in 2011 after a fallout with Abbas, heads a group called the Democratic Reform Current.