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U.S. pushing for Fatah victory
Palestinian sources tell Ynet Americans go out of their way to help Fatah Chairman Abbas win upcoming Palestinian elections; European diplomats also concerned over Hamas rise in power
The timing of Fatah and Tanzim head Marwan Barghouti's television appearance on Arab satellite channels Sunday was not coincidental, but rather the result of heavy American pressures on Israel to allow the interview.

 


Jibril Rajoub watching Barghouti interview (Photo: AP)

 

Palestinian sources have told Ynet Monday of ongoing efforts by senior officials in the American administration to assist PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas ahead of upcoming elections, in the framework of which the TV broadcast was initiated.

 

Washington, just like Jerusalem, is concerned of Hamas' expected rise in power, and is willing to do nearly anything to help Fatah win the vote, a Palestinian source said.

 

The American involvement in the Palestinian electoral process went into high gear in the last two weeks, following a series of talks between senior Palestinian and United States officials, and especially in the wake of Abbas' meeting with representatives of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about 10 days ago.

 

During the meeting, the American delegates made it clear to Abbas that elections must be held as scheduled, and also vouched to make sure Israel does not prevent the vote in east Jerusalem.

 

The Americans have also told the Palestinian leader that the blurred stance he has taken regarding the elections resulted in an anemic Fatah campaign that have so far played into the hands of Hamas.

 

American guarantees

 

The Americans promised Abbas in the meeting to pressure Israel to enable Barghouti's interview, which was considered a media event of high electoral value to the Fatah party, and encouraged the leader to increase his own public appearances as well.

 

Another guarantee the U.S. officials gave Abbas was that American pressure will be put on the Gulf States to contribute money to his campaign. Ynet has recently learned that Fatah has so far raised dozens of millions of dollars in the Gulf, in support of its election campaign.

 

Notably, the Washington Post has recently reported that the American relief fund USAID was also involved with sponsoring the Fatah election drive, although Fatah, for its part, denied the reports.

 

Meanwhile, Hamas and Fatah are currently in dispute over another media issue, after the PA's General Prosecutor has ordered that Hamas TV channel al-Aqsa be closed down, officially due to "legal and regulatory problems."

 

European concerns

 

While the U.S. is boosting its efforts to help Fatah, the Europeans are also expressing concern over the prospects of a Hamas win in the elections. Dozens of EU parliament members have launched a media campaign to alert of the implications on the peace process if Hamas does win.

 

In newspaper ads published in the Palestinian, Israeli and European press, the MPs demand that candidates for the Palestinian Legislative Council will be required to sign a document in which they pledge to continue the peace process which recognizes Israel, to abandon the road of violence and terror, disarm and wipe the clauses calling for Israel's destruction off Hamas' charter.

 

Roee Nahmias contributed to the report

 

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