Fatah Allowed to Merge Poll List

Palestinian election authorities have cleared the way for the ruling Fatah movement to merge rival lists of candidates for a parliamentary ballot next month and end a damaging split.

Fatah Allowed to Merge Poll List
Rivals in the ruling movement led by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, had at first presented two candidate lists, then decided that they wanted to merge them into one as a way to counter a challenge from surging Islamist rival Hamas. Monday's ruling of the electoral court was needed because the official deadline for registering candidates was 14 December.

After an appeal, the court said it would reopen registration for a further six hours. It was not immediately clear when the six hours would begin. The justification was that operations were suspended for six hours by the elections commission during the registration process to protest against attacks by armed men on its offices. The attackers were from Fatah.

There are no differences between Fatah's factions on the political programme of negotiating for a state alongside Israel. Younger members seeking a bigger share of power are challenging a corruption-tainted old guard. 

Buoyant Hamas
Hamas, committed to destroying Israel, has been boosted ahead of the election by the division in Fatah - one of the gravest crises in its 40-year history. Polls show that Fatah might get more than 45% if it united but could fall to 21% if it remained split. Hamas, running for the first time in the legislative elections, gets about 30% in opinion polls. But it swept local council votes in West Bank cities last week, alarming Fatah as well as Israel.

Israel fires missiles into Gaza


Israeli helicopter gunships fired three missiles at targets in Gaza City and in the northern Gaza Strip, as Israel began enforcing a buffer zone to prevent rocket fire into its territory. Palestinian witnesses early on Tuesday said one missile hit an unknown target in Gaza City and another crashed into an office belonging to the Fatah faction in northern Gaza. The third hit an empty field, they said. There were no reports of casualties.

The Israeli army said it fired two missiles at buildings used by the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militia within Fatah faction. The buildings were used to recruit members and to host meetings by leaders of the armed group.

Israel has said it will intensify air strikes in the Gaza Strip to enforce a buffer zone to stop Palestinians from firing rockets into Israel. The decision was taken several days ago, but bad weather in recent days had limited activity by the Israeli air force. Palestinians reported that warplanes and helicopter gunships took to the skies over Gaza early on Tuesday and were breaking the sound barrier.

Hours earlier, fighters fired two rockets into Israel. Both hit near Israeli farming communities, with one landing next to a kindergarten. Nobody was hurt in the strikes. The makeshift missiles rarely cause casualties but could have big political fallout as Ariel Sharon, Israel's prime minister, campaigns for re-election on the strength of a Gaza pullout that he said would boost Israel's security.

Rocket fire has not stopped despite Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in September after a 38-year occupation. Palestinian groups say the rocket fire avenges Israeli raids in the occupied West Bank and strikes into the Gaza Strip.

Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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