Will Palestinians get to vote?

Will Palestinians get to vote?

The last time Palestinians went to the polls was in 2006, after Mahmoud Abbas replaced longtime Fatah stalwart Yasser Arafat as president of the Palestinian Authority. But factional infighting between Fatah and Hamas (designated a terror group by the US and EU) brought the Palestinians to the "brink of civil war," Abbas said at the time. Discord over power, ideology and vision led to a bloody battle that saw Fatah expelled to the West Bank in 2007, where it has ruled ever since, while Hamas maintains power in the overcrowded Gaza Strip.

Now, some 15 years later, Palestinians are set to vote in legislative elections next month. But intra-Palestinian cracks are again surfacing, suggesting that the long-anticipated vote could be scrapped. If Abbas' Fatah faction decides not to hold the vote, which has been delayed since 2010, the implications could be calamitous.

What's at stake? Abbas — who at 85 has led the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority for 16 years — does not want to give up his job or his party's grip on the West Bank. But Abbas' electoral prospects have been undermined in recent months by breakaway Fatah factions, particularly the one headed by jailed militant Marwan Barghouti, who is extremely popular with Palestinian voters. (In a recent poll, 28 percent of voters said they would vote for Barghouti's list, compared to just 22 percent for Abbas' once-dominant Fatah.)

Importantly, the carving up of support among Fatah-associated candidates would give a massive boost to Hamas, which, according to polls, would get 27 percent of votes across the West Bank and Gaza, to become the biggest party in parliament. Meanwhile, 57 percent of Palestinians in both areas say they would support a joint Fatah-Hamas list. For now, however, that option seems extremely unlikely given how acrimonious the relationship is.

Abbas is testing the waters. Fearful of political defeat, Abbas, who has a close albeit testy working relationship with Israel's security apparatus, is testing his options. In recent days, he has said that the upcoming polls might be delayed for an unspecified period of time, because Israel is not giving Palestinians in East Jerusalem enough access to voting booths. (The 1993 Oslo Accords stipulate that some Palestinians can vote at designated Jerusalem post offices; most will have to vote in the West Bank. Abbas and his loyalists say this will disenfranchise East-Jerusalem based voters.)

But critics say that Abbas is manufacturing a political crisis and using Israel's failure to formally facilitate the voting process as a pretext to annul the vote to avoid defeat.

What do Palestinian voters want? Surveys show that the top four priorities for Palestinian voters are the unification of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, boosting the economy, tackling corruption and removing the blockade of Gaza. Abbas knows that he is extremely unpopular, and that his government is oft-associated with cronyism and graft (some 84 percent of Palestinians in both enclaves say that PA institutions are corrupt). While voters don't think that Hamas will do a better job of improving their economic prospects, they do trust the militant group (more than the PA) to tackle endemic corruption.

Igniting Hamas' wrath. Sending a flurry of rockets into Israel in recent days, an emboldened Hamas made it clear to both the PA and Israeli leadership that there would be serious consequences if next month's vote were to be scrapped. Gazan sources also told a Lebanese outlet that relevant players should prepare for an uptick in violence if the polls don't go ahead.

Israel's position. It's still unclear, however, what Israel's official position is on the vote, and how much power it has to affect internal Palestinian politicking anyway. But this is all taking place against the backdrop of a violence-filled week in Jerusalem, where Arab residents — angry at restrictions placed on access to the Old City during Ramadan — beat ultra-Orthodox Jews and uploaded videos of the attacks to TikTok. In response, right-wing Jewish extremist groups marched through the city chanting "Death to Arabs." While recent nights were quieter, the situation is combustible, with many fearing that the clashes, so far confined to Jerusalem, could spread to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank — and even elsewhere in the Muslim world, given the symbolic status of Jerusalem.

Looking ahead. International and regional heavyweights like the EU and Egypt are lobbying Israel to facilitate mass voting throughout East Jerusalem. But it seems like Abbas, not wanting to relinquish power, may have already made up his mind to shut down the vote and roll the dice.

Empowering minority-owned businesses in 2022

A woman of color smiling as she uses a tablet

One of the keys to accelerating financial inclusion and building a more equitable digital economy is to enable minority-owned businesses to scale. And one of the fastest ways to do that is through partnerships with a global network like Visa. At the Visa Economic Empowerment Institute (VEEI), we’re committed to providing research and insights on important issues related to inclusive economic policy. Our reports cover topics like what women-owned businesses need to unlock growth and how to empower Black and Brown-owned banks. Read more of our latest stories here.

Does the EU really have a foreign policy?

For decades, European leaders have debated the question of whether Europe should have a common foreign policy that’s independent of the United States.

Germany, the UK, and countries situated closest to Russia have traditionally preferred to rely on membership in NATO and US military strength to safeguard European security at a cost affordable for them.

French leaders, by contrast, have argued that, with or without NATO, Europe needs an approach to foreign-policy questions that doesn’t depend on alignment, or even agreement, with Washington.

There are those within many EU countries who agree that Europe must speak with a single clear voice if the EU is to promote European values and protect European interests in a world of US, Chinese, and Russian power.

More Show less
The politics of US crime: Perception vs reality

A recent spate of violent crimes in New York City has made national headlines. Since Eric Adams was sworn in four weeks ago as mayor of America’s most populous city, violence on the streets — and the subways — has again become a major political focus. Things got even more heated this week, when two young cops were killed while responding to a domestic dispute in Harlem.

Crime is not only a dominant political issue in New York. It also resonates more broadly with American voters worried over increased lawlessness and unrest. Indeed, crime is already shaping up to be a wedge issue as Republicans vie to win control of the US Congress this November.

More Show less
Hard Numbers: South China Sea jet search, US economy surges, Cuban protesters charged, Africa gets vaxxed

FILE PHOTO of a F-35C Lightning II, assigned to the Argonauts of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, launches off the flight deck of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) on Jan. 14, 2022.


100 million: The US Navy is scrambling to find a $100 million F-35 stealth fighter jet that crashed and sank soon after taking off on Monday from an aircraft carrier in the South China Sea. One expert described the Cold War-ish race to locate the remains — stocked with classified equipment — before the Chinese do as "basically The Hunt For Red October meets The Abyss."

More Show less
The logo of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project is seen on a pipe at the Chelyabinsk pipe rolling plant in Chelyabinsk, Russia, February 26, 2020.

Nord Stream 2 used as a bargaining chip with Russia. The US now says that if Russia invades Ukraine, it’ll block the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is set to transfer even more natural gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea. This is a big deal, considering that Germany – thirsty for more Russian gas – has long been pushing for the pipeline to start operating despite ongoing objections from Washington. The $11 billion energy project, which would double Russian gas exports to Germany, is seen as (a big) part of the reason why Berlin is reluctant to push back hard against the Kremlin over its troop buildup at the Ukrainian border. Still, German officials admit Nord Stream 2 could face sanctions if the Russians invade, suggesting that the Americans’ threat was likely coordinated with Berlin in advance. This comes amid ongoing diplomatic attempts to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis, with US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz set to meet at the White House on February 7.

More Show less
Putin Has a “Noose” Around Ukraine, Says Russia Analyst Alina Polyakova | GZERO World

What’s going on in Vladimir Putin’s mind? That’s the million-dollar question.

Ukraine and Russia analyst Alina Polyakova doesn’t think it’s anything good.

Russia's president, she says, has put a “noose” around Ukraine with a troop build-up along the border that could spell invasion in the near term. The US has led an effort to deescalate the situation through diplomacy.

More Show less
The AI Addiction Cycle | GZERO World

Ever wonder why everything seems to be a major crisis these days? For former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, it's because artificial intelligence has determined that's the only way to get your attention.

What's more, it's driving an addiction cycle among humans that will lead to enormous depression and dissatisfaction.

"Oh my God there's another message. Oh my God, there's another crisis. Oh my God, there's another outrage. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God," he says. "I don't think humans, at least in modern society where [we’ve] evolved to be in an 'Oh my God' situation all day."

More Show less
Merkin' It With Angela Merkel | PUPPET REGIME | GZERO Media

Angela Merkel is retired — but only from politics. Still, maybe she's not as good at other jobs as she was as German chancellor.


Subscribe to GZERO Media's YouTube channel to get notifications when new videos are published.

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal


Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

The AI addiction cycle

GZERO World Clips


Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal