Independent Palestinian academic ready to run for presidency

RAMALLAH, Oct. 6 – An independent Palestinian academic said Monday that he will stand for presidential elections if they were held in January.Abdel Satar Qassem, politics professor in Nablus’ Al-Najjah University, made the decision as the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), or parliament, refused to extend Abbas’term after it ends on Jan. 8, 2009.

The political differences and feud between Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah movement lead to the disputes over the presidency.

Hamas wants to appoint PLC Speaker Aziz Dweik, who is also a senior Hamas leader and remains in the Israeli custody now, to replace Abbas for 60 days, while Fatah says the parliament is disabled and inactive.

Analysts also say the elections can not be held while the Palestinian territories are divided into two feuding governments –Hamas administration in Gaza and the Fatah-backed government in West Bank.

Qassem said he will run in the elections as independent, “the independents are more lucky now because the people are frustrated and disappointed by the factions.”

But he stressed that he will not run if the number of independent candidates is large and, if he runs, he will ask the factions to support him.

Qassem expected that the elections will not be held after Abbas’ term ends “because the elections are subject to the Israeli and American will, not the Palestinian decision.”

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