PA threats stifle Jerusalem Arab vote, only 1.5% headed to polls

Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah Movement thanked Jerusalem’s Arabs for heeding the PA’s threats.

By Jack Gold, World Israel News

Threats and an Islamic edict against voting proved successful in keeping Jerusalem’s Arab population away from the polls in last Tuesday’s municipal elections, Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reported Sunday.

A mere 1.5 percent of Jerusalem Arabs exercised their right to vote, PMW reported. Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah Movement thanked the city’s Arabs for heeding the PA’s threats.

A fatwah, or religious injunction, also helped. In July, the eastern Jerusalem Supreme Council issued a fatwa warning that Arab residents were “religiously forbidden” from voting or running in the election. “The disadvantages of participating in the election are bigger and greater than any other gained interests,” the fatwah said.

The council warned that participation in the election would assist Israel in its effort to “Judaize” Jerusalem and “change its historical and religious features. The occupied city of Jerusalem is an Arab and Islamic city.”

The almost complete boycott by Jerusalem Arabs is likely the result of the threats and pressure by the PA and not a natural outgrowth of any wish on their part to protest Israeli rule, PMW says.

The group cites a 2015 poll by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion that found 52 percent of Jerusalem’s Arabs preferred to be Israeli citizens, as opposed to 42 percent who wished to be “citizens of a Palestinian state.”

“With more than half of Jerusalem Arabs desiring to be citizens of Israel, in all likelihood the 98.5 percent boycott of the recent elections was a result of fear due to the PA’s repeated threats,” PMW said.

Fatah depicted the boycott as a statement against Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem. Spokesman Osama Al-Qawasmi said that the lack of turnout showed that Palestinians are ready to “defend it [Jerusalem] at all costs,” a common Palestinian euphemism for acts of violence and terror.

Fatah “blessed” the boycotters as “heroes,” saying they had sent “a strong message” that Jerusalem “was and is purely Arab-Palestinian.”

According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, in 2014 Arabs made up 316,000 of Jerusalem’s 850,000 residents.