Shin Bet said to warn Palestinian Authority to stay out of Israel’s elections

The Shin Bet has issued “a severe warning” to the Palestinian Authority not to intervene in Israel’s upcoming elections.

The warning came after the PA’s General Intelligence chief Majed Faraj met with leaders of the majority-Arab Joint List party, in an effort to convince them to rejoin forces with the Islamist Ra’am party, Channel 12 news reported Monday.

The report said PA officials stressed to their Israeli counterparts that they do not intend to intervene in the November election and that any meetings with Arab lawmakers were not for that purpose.

The network previously reported that Faraj expressed to Joint List MKs the PA’s concern over the possibility of lower Arab Israeli turnout in the election, which could lead to former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu returning to power with a hardline, right-wing government.

The report said that the PA official went as far as accusing the Arab Israeli lawmakers of not doing enough to prevent such a scenario.

“You’re not doing enough to increase voter turnout among the Arab community to prevent Netanyahu’s return to power,” Faraj reportedly said during the meeting.

He even offered to serve as a mediator in negotiations with Ra’am, the report said.

The Joint List and Ra’am parties split ahead of the last election, with the latter going on to enter the coalition on its own.

Palestinian Authority General Intelligence Services chief Majed Faraj speaking in Hebron on June 11, 2018. (Screenshot: YouTube)

While peace talks between Israel and the PA appear far off, the sides have enjoyed a relative warming of ties over the past year since the new Israeli government was sworn in, with Jerusalem advancing a series of economic measures aimed at improving Palestinian livelihoods.

A narrow government made up of Netanyahu’s Likud and other right-wing parties would likely be less inclined to continue such steps.

Arab Israeli turnout was highest when all four major Arab parties ran together, with the Joint List winning 15 seats in the 2020 election. Ra’am split away from the party ahead of the next election in order to focus largely on domestic affairs. It managed to receive four seats and joined the government in a historic move. The three Joint List subfactions received just six seats and remained together in the opposition.

Leader of the Ra’am party Mansour Abbas, left, at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, April 5, 2021; Leader of the Joint List party Ayman Odeh, right, gestures as he speaks during a conference in Jerusalem, March 7, 2021. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP, File); (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Convinced that a reassembled Joint List would improve voter turnout, Faraj urged the Arab Israeli lawmakers to put aside their differences with Ra’am.

The lawmakers told Faraj in response that such an effort was unlikely to succeed, due to Ra’am’s determination to run independently in the upcoming elections.

An unnamed senior Palestinian official cited by Channel 12 confirmed that Faraj met with the Joint List leaders, but said it was part of the PA’s routine engagement with Israeli lawmakers and flatly denied that the topic of discussion was interference in the upcoming election.

The Joint List declined to comment on the report.

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