Palestinian forced to shun Jerusalem polls
None of the electoral candidates represents holy city’s sizeable Palestinian population
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