Anticipating Election Defeat, Fatah Mulls Nominating Hamas Man As Leader Of Nablus Faction

A masked activist of Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, a militia linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, marches as he holds the Koran and his rifle during a show of support September 25, 2002 in Deir el Balah, southern Gaza Strip. Nine schoolboys were wounded during clashes with Israeli …
Abid Katib/Getty

TEL AVIV – The Fatah leadership has been in turmoil since media reports suggested that the movement has been mulling the appointment of a former Hamas-affiliated politician as its nominee for the local elections in the West Bank city of Nablus.

First elected mayor of Nablus in 2005, Adli Yaeesh was ousted following Hamas’ takeover of Gaza in 2007, after which the Fatah-led government in Ramallah disbanded all Hamas-held local councils. Yaeesh has never been a Hamas member, but ran for mayor on a Hamas platform.

According to a report in the Palestinian media, Fatah made Yaeesh a formal offer. Some Fatah officials in Nablus threatened to leave the movement, saying it had crossed a red line. Last week, Breitbart Jerusalem reported that Palestinian Authority officials dread a Hamas victory in October’s local elections. They said Hamas sees the elections as an opportunity to resume its activity in the West Bank, after a long period of repression by Israel and the PA.

“It will be a terrific opportunity for Hamas to return to the West Bank,” a Fatah official said, adding that the Islamic movement’s popularity is rising as Fatah is mired in corruption scandals and internal divisions.

Nominating a Hamas-affiliated politician is a “creative way to face this threat,” a Fatah official from Nablus told Breitbart Jerusalem. “It’s a good idea to appoint someone who’s untainted by corruption, but why a Hamasnik?”

“People aren’t stupid. They won’t be duped by this trick,” he added. “It’s definitely a good idea to appoint someone who’s uninvolved in the scandals, but there are many of those who aren’t associated with Hamas. What message does it send to the public and to our constituents? Appointing a Hamasnik isn’t the way to deal with our problems.”