Palestinian Submits Candidacy for Jerusalem Municipal Elections

Palestinian Submits Candidacy for Jerusalem Municipal Elections

Tuesday, 16 October, 2018 - 06:15
Ramadan Dabash, a civil engineer from East Jerusalem who is running for a seat in city hall of Jerusalem. (Reuters)
Ramallah - Kifah Zboun
Ramadan Dabash, a resident of the Sur Baher neighborhood of East Jerusalem, insisted on challenging the Palestinian Authority, as well as religious leaders, and running for Jerusalem municipal elections scheduled for the end of this month.

Dabash put forward a list entitled “Jerusalem Madinati” (Jerusalem my city), in an attempt to get Arab residents of the city to participate in the elections, which are witnessing a major boycott.

On his Facebook page, Dabash wrote about the goals of his electoral list, saying that it sought to obtain better services and equal budgets for the citizens of Jerusalem, stressing that he did not have political objectives. He noted that the wanted to solve the problems of construction, demolition, education, employment and infrastructure in the city.

The Palestinian Authority, along with leaders of religious groups and factions, reject the participation of any Jerusalemites in these elections. Palestinians in East Jerusalem usually boycott the municipal elections, and at best, less than one percent end up voting.

The municipal council consists of 31 seats, without any representation for the Arabs, even though the Palestinians constitute a third of Jerusalem’s population in areas captured by Israel in the 1967 war.

Dabash has avoided running for mayor, a position contested by four Jewish candidates, one of whom is a member of the cabinet and an ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Dabash hopes to win up to five seats in the city council. His list includes 13 Palestinian candidates, as well as an Israeli-Jewish adviser.

But the general atmosphere indicates that he is expected to face failure.

Another Palestinian, Aziz Abu Sarah, announced a mayoral campaign, but dropped out after protesters shouting Arabic slogans attacked him with eggs outside city hall.

Last month, Palestinian official Saeb Erekat demanded that Jerusalem’s municipal elections be boycotted, and the Mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories also forbade participation in polls.

“We do not tell anyone to become Israeli, change his religion, give up the Aqsa Mosque, or join the Israeli army,” said Dabash, who received Israeli citizenship in 1995. “We say we need to make sure we have better services. We need to have a voice in the city council to fight for our rights.”

According to Israeli reports, Dabash joined Netanyahu’s Likud party for a short time in 2014 and often gave lectures to Israeli army officers about the problems facing East Jerusalem.

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