Wednesday, 01 April, 2020

West Bank votes in polls underlining Palestinian split

Palestinian President Abbas attends opening of Center via teleconference with Bethlehem before meeting with Russian President Putin at Bocharov Ruchei state residence in Sochi West Bank votes in polls underlining Palestinian split
Christy Curtis | 18 May, 2017, 10:57

In some towns, Fatah barely garnered a majority of council seats, despite a boycott from its main political rivals, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Although it won easily, the Fatah Party's poor showing as results were released on Sunday reflected public discontent towards Abbas.

Fatah, the ruling party in the West Bank, is led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who was elected in 2005.

Saturday's vote gave Palestinians a rare chance to cast ballots after over a decade without presidential or legislative elections.

In Hebron, the West Bank's largest city, Fatah won just seven of 15 seats. But with the rival movements disqualifying each other's candidates, Fatah made a decision to go forward with the elections in the West Bank alone in a bid to renew its legitimacy. The West Bank has for years been marred by a weak economy, while Abbas has allegedly allowed nepotism to flourish within his party's ranks and failed to move the Palestinian Territories any closer to independence after more than 10 years at the helm.

After the 2006 election, the worldwide community refused to deal with any government in which Hamas participated until it renounced violence and recognised Israel and past peace agreements.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah cast his vote at a polling station in his hometown of Anabta in the northern West Bank. But despite signing several reconciliation agreements, Hamas and Fatah have been unable to agree on any formula for a single election the outcome of which would be a unity government representing all Palestinians.

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Amjad Mustafa, the manager of a software shop in his thirties, said the vote was "an event not to be missed" after "a long time since we last took part in a democratic event".

The new head of Hebron's municipal council is Tayseer Abu Sneineh, the Palestinian Authority (PA) candidate who was convicted of murdering of six Israelis in a 1980 terror attack.

Rival lists also looked to the same electorate.

Other Palestinian political factions have also chose to boycott the elections.

CEC chairman Hanna Nasser said at a press conference in Ramallah that turnout in the cities was much lower than in the villages.

Abbas, 82, is now 12 years into what was to be a four-year term and is an unpopular leader according to opinion polls.

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