Palestinian local elections might give a small boost to Fatah

A woman registers to vote at a polling station during Saturday’s municipal elections in the village of Dura Al-Qar, east of the city of Ramallah. (AFP)
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Updated 13 December 2021

Palestinian local elections might give a small boost to Fatah

  • Local elections for the major cities in A and B areas are scheduled to be held on March 26, 2022

AMMAN: Saturday’s Palestinian local council elections produced a much higher turnout than they did in 2017, according to the head of the Elections Commission Hanna Naser.

Naser told the media on Sunday that 66 percent of eligible voters (405,687) cast their vote in elections for local councils in C areas.

Local elections for the major cities in A and B areas are scheduled to be held on March 26, 2022.

Independent lists (mostly family/tribal oriented) won 71 percent of the vote, while party lists won 29 percent, he said.

In the 2017 elections, only 53 percent of the electorate voted in local council elections.

Naser added that all complaints that were filed were investigated and dismissed as they would not have changed the results in any location.

Rima Nazzal, a member of the secretariat of the General Union of Palestinian Women and an elections expert, told Arab News that the elections gave Fatah a boost that will help them.

“Although the separation of election dates is contrary to the law, the poll results most likely will give Fatah a boost that will help it overcome the loss of support that occurred due to the cancellation of the legislative elections last April 30.”

Nazzal said that Fatah, the Palestinian national movement, won 123 out of the 162 uncontested council lists.

In other lists, it is hard to determine politically who won because most rural communities run local candidates that are not necessarily affiliated or loyal to any particular political movement.

Suheir Ismael Farraj, director of the Bethlehem-based Women and Media Development, also known as TAM, told Arab News that the local council elections were largely tribal in nature.

“In most communities, the winners belong to large family tribes rather than political movements.”

Farraj conceded that in many communities the same person who is a tribal leader is also connected to one of the Palestinian factions.

“For example, in my home village of Khader, the head of the winning list is a tribal leader from the Musa family and he is also connected to the left-wing Fida party. Had he run just on the left-wing party, he would have lost,” she said.

While Fatah fielded by far the largest number of lists, the Democratic Front had 25 lists, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine had six lists, the left-wing People’s Party had five lists and the Palestinian Struggle faction fielded a mere two lists.

According to the head of the Elections Commission, the next stage of local elections will begin with voter registration on Jan. 8, 2022. Electoral lists will be accepted starting Feb. 8, and elections for 66 city councils in areas A and B in the West Bank as well as all 25 councils in Gaza will take place on Feb. 26.

It is not clear yet if Hamas, which is in control of the security situation in Gaza, will agree to hold elections.

Nazzal also told Arab News that she does not expect that women will occupy much more than 20 percent of the allotted seats even though women made up 26 percent of the lists that were presented for the elections.

Palestinian law stipulates that at least 20 percent of any council must be made up of women.


United Arab Emirates cuts red tape to attract digital businesses

Updated 6 sec ago

United Arab Emirates cuts red tape to attract digital businesses

  • UAE aims to make it easier for digital companies to incorporate
  • Sets a target for 300 digital companies to incorporate within a year

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates is cutting red tape to make it easier and quicker for digital companies to incorporate, the latest economic policy announcement as the government seeks to further diversify the economy away from oil revenues.

Trade minister Thani Al Zeyoudi, flanked by executives from many state-linked entities, on Wednesday announced the changes that include better access to the financial and banking system.

“We want to show digitally enabled companies from Europe, Asia, the Americas, that the UAE is the world’s best place to live, work, invest and scale,” the minister told reporters, setting a target for 300 digital companies to incorporate within a year.

Those setting up in the UAE, home to financial center Dubai and oil-rich Abu Dhabi, would have visas issued sooner and be offered attractive commercial and residential leases, he said.

As other governments step up national efforts to increase renewable energy sources and move away from fossil fuels, the UAE is rolling out a series of initiatives to double the economy to $816 billion by 2030.

“We want to show that we are here to help; from commercial licenses and work visas, to opening bank accounts, finding office space and the perfect place to live,” Al Zeyoudi said.

United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani Al Zeyoudi gestures during an interview with Reuters in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, June 30, 2022. (REUTERS)

Some company executives complain about the bureaucracy involved in setting up a business, including in hiring international staff in a country where citizens are a minority.

Still, the UAE’s Dubai has established itself as the region’s premier business hub and is already home to many multinational corporations and international businesses.

But regional competition has intensified as Saudi Arabia takes steps to re-mold itself as a leading financial and tourism center under the leadership of de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“We’re moving from a regional hub to a global hub,” Al Zeyoudi said. “We’re competing with the big, big boys now.”


Sudan’s Burhan relieves civilian members of the sovereign council from duties

Updated 06 July 2022

Sudan’s Burhan relieves civilian members of the sovereign council from duties

  • Army would not participate in internationally led dialogue efforts to break its stalemate with the civilian opposition

CAIRO: Sudan’s military leader General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan issued a decree relieving the five civilian members of the sovereign council from their duties, a statement on the council’s telegram account said on Wednesday.
Burhan said on Monday the army would not participate in internationally led dialogue efforts to break its stalemate with the civilian opposition, and urged political and revolutionary groups to start talks to form a transitional government.


Palestinian killed during Israeli raid in West Bank

Updated 06 July 2022

Palestinian killed during Israeli raid in West Bank

  • At least 50 Palestinians have been killed since late March, mostly in the West Bank

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: A Palestinian man was killed by the Israeli military during a raid in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, the Palestinian health ministry said.
Rafiq Riyad Ghannem, 20, was “shot by the occupation (Israeli army)” near the northern West Bank city of Jenin, the ministry said in a statement, adding that he was killed in the town of Jaba.
The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On Sunday, a 17-year-old Palestinian died after being shot a day earlier in another Israeli army raid in the same town.
At least 50 Palestinians have been killed since late March, mostly in the West Bank, among them suspected militants and non-combatants.
Israeli security forces have launched near-daily raids in the West Bank following a spate of attacks in Israel in recent months.
Nineteen people — mostly Israeli civilians inside Israel — have been killed mainly in attacks carried out by Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. Three Arab Israeli attackers have also been killed.


Palestinian president and Hamas chief hold rare meeting

Updated 06 July 2022

Palestinian president and Hamas chief hold rare meeting

ALGIERS: Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh met publicly for the first time in over five years, on the sidelines of Algerian independence anniversary celebrations.
Algeria’s state broadcaster reported late Tuesday that representatives of the Palestinian Authority and the Islamist Hamas movement also attended this meeting, which it called “historic.”
The pair, who officially last met face-to-face in Doha in October 2016, were brought together in a meeting with Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, whose country marked the 60th anniversary of independence from France.
Abbas’ secular Fatah party, which dominates the Palestinian Authority that rules the Israeli-occupied West Bank, has been at loggerheads with Hamas since elections in 2007, when the Islamists took control of Gaza.
Tebboune and Abbas also signed a document to name a street “Algeria” in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
As well as Abbas and Haniyeh, Tebboune on Tuesday hosted several foreign dignitaries, who watched a huge military parade to mark independence in 1962 when Algeria broke free from 132 years of French occupation.


Algeria to re-open land border with Tunisia: president

Updated 05 July 2022

Algeria to re-open land border with Tunisia: president

  • "We have taken the joint decision to reopen the land border from July 15," said President Abdelmadjid Tebboune
  • He was speaking at Algiers airport alongside his Tunisian counterpart President Kais Saied

ALGIERS: Algeria said Tuesday it would reopen its land border with Tunisia later this month, more than two years after it was shut at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have taken the joint decision to reopen the land border from July 15,” said President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.
He was speaking at Algiers airport alongside his Tunisian counterpart President Kais Saied, who was leaving the country after attending a huge parade marking 60 years since Algeria’s independence from France.
Passengers had been blocked from crossing the border since March 2020 to stop the Covid-19 illness spreading, although cargo traffic had continued.
Being cut off from a neighbor of some 44 million people has dealt a serious blow to Tunisia’s tourism industry.
More than three million Algerians usually visit the country every year, according to local media.
Air and sea links between the two countries were restored in June 2021.