Convicted Palestinian arch-terrorist Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences for his involvement in deadly terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians during the Second Intifada, will run his own list of candidates against members of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party.
The development came one day before the candidate deadline expired on March 31. Barghouti, who has reportedly mulled his entry into Palestinian politics for months, could pose a serious threat to Abbas’s hold on power in Ramallah.
Barghouti’s wife, attorney Fadwa Barghouti, said that the new list will include more Fatah activists who wish to break away from the party’s line, as well as other independent candidates.
His brother, Muqbil, told Qatar-based Al-Araby TV that the decision was made after Abbas’s Fatah party failed to honor previous agreements.
Sources close to Barghouti said that his independent list could be a prelude to a presidential bid, as well. The Palestinian Authority holds separate elections for its legislature and president. The upcoming Palestinian legislative elections, the first to be held in the West Bank and Gaza in 15 years, are scheduled for May 22, while presidential elections are scheduled for July 31.
Barghouti is a widely popular figure in the West Bank and, according to recent opinion polls, would likely win in a head-to-head election against the aging Abbas.
A recent poll showed Barghouti’s independent party taking 28 percent of the vote, while Abbas is currently at 22 percent. There are at least 25 groups taking part in the upcoming election, including Hamas and exiled Abbas rival Mohammad Dahlan.
Fatah had sought to persuade Barghouti not to run, while rival factions have attempted to persuade the popular prisoner to join their ticket.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.