RAMALLAH: Palestinian election officials announced on Sunday that 36 candidate lists have been approved to run in the parliamentary elections scheduled for next month, the first Palestinian polls in 15 years.
The vote, which precedes a presidential election slated for July 31, is part of an effort by dominant Palestinian movements – secular Fatah and Islamist Hamas – to bolster international support for Palestinian governance.
The groups had until Wednesday to submit their lists of candidates to the May 22 legislative elections.
The individual names on each list are due for release on Tuesday, but the Palestinian Election Commission announced on its website that it has approved all 36 nominations.
President Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah movement, which controls the Palestinian Authority in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, is contesting the elections, as is Hamas, which has ruled the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip since 2007.
Fatah faces challenges from dissident factions, including the Freedom List, led by a nephew of late Palestinian icon Yasser Arafat, Nasser Al-Kidwa.
The freedom was endorsed by Marwan Barghouti, a popular leader who supporters have described as the Palestinian Mandela.
Barghouti is serving several life sentences in Israel for allegedly organizing deadly attacks during the Second Palestinian Intifada (uprising) from 2000 to 2005.
Abbas’ former Gaza security chief Mohammed Dahlan, who is currently in exile in Abu Dhabi, also backs a list of challengers.
Former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, a former World Bank official with a proven track record in fighting corruption, backs another.
While Fatah and Hamas have reached an agreement for the vote to take place in the West Bank and Gaza, the ability of Palestinians in East Jerusalem annexed by Israel to vote remains uncertain.
Israel bans all Palestinian political activity in Jerusalem, but the Palestinian leadership is insisting that the vote take place in the eastern part of the city, which they claim to be the capital of a future Palestinian state.
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