Pales­tinian forced to shun Jerusalem polls

None of the elec­toral candidates rep­re­sents holy city’s size­able Pales­tinian pop­u­la­tion

Gulf News - - Region -

Aziz Abu Sarah’s bid to be­come mayor of oc­cu­pied Jerusalem was doomed from the start.

A Pales­tinian busi­ness­man and ac­tivist born and raised in the city, Abu Sarah was not only break­ing a 50-year taboo within his own com­mu­nity, he also faced a le­gal bat­tle be­cause he is not an Is­raeli cit­i­zen.

Yet even he was sur­prised at the in­tense pressure from Is­raelis and Pales­tini­ans alike that up­ended his cam­paign.

Mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions took place yes­ter­day across Is­rael, but few ci­ties are be­ing watched as closely as oc­cu­pied Jerusalem, whose con­tested sta­tus and po­larised pop­u­la­tion have made the race for city hall par­tic­u­larly dra­matic - even draw­ing in rare Pales­tinian candidates.

Five candidates are vy­ing for the cov­eted job of mayor as in­cum­bent Nir Barkat steps down. None of them rep­re­sents oc­cu­pied Jerusalem’s siz­able Pales­tinian pop­u­la­tion, though.

Abu Sarah had hoped to ad­dress that. But Abu Sarah’s dreams were short-lived. Af­ter he sub­mit­ted a pe­ti­tion in the Supreme Court to run for mayor with­out cit­i­zen­ship, his oc­cu­pied Jerusalem res­i­dency mys­te­ri­ously came “un­der re­view.”

Days af­ter he for­mally an­nounced his can­di­dacy and his 11-mem­ber party, Al Quds Lana, his team started re­ceiv­ing threats. But Ra­madan Dabash, head of a sep­a­rate all-Pales­tinian party, is con­tin­u­ing with his bid for a place on the 31-seat city coun­cil. Dabash said he, too, has been ha­rassed and called a Zion­ist and col­lab­o­ra­tor.

Aziz Abu Sarah

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