Friday, May 06, 2005

So where was Jimmy Carter when Hamas needed him?

It is interesting to note that Mid East pollsters have apparently called it wrong, wrong, wrong when it was predicted that Hamas would sweep this series of municipal elections held in the Palestinian Authority. This election was commonly perceived as harbinger of what was to come for the Palestinian Legislative Council elections to be held on July 17th. The Jerusalem Post reports this:
According to preliminary results, Fatah won 55 percent of the vote and Hamas a mere 33% in elections for new municipalities and village councils in the West Bank and Gaza Strip held Thursday. The Election Authority said Fatah had won 50 municipalities, Hamas 24, and three municipalities will be governed by a coalition of Fatah and Hamas, Israel Radio reported.

It should be noted that election results are not expected to be finalized until Sunday. Of course, already both sides are calling foul.
Hamas officials claimed that Fatah activists and Palestinian Authority security officials had attempted to influence voters by putting pressure on them to vote for Fatah candidates in several areas. Muhammad Ghazal, a senior Hamas official in Nablus, complained that his representatives at polling stations in the Tulkarm area discovered cases of forgery in the voting, especially in the village of Anabta, where the ballot boxes were closed temporarily pending an investigation. He claimed that PA officials had also threatened to cut off social welfare payments from voters who did not cast their ballots for Fatah.

In the village of Abassan in the Gaza Strip, Hamas representatives accused Fatah activists of shooting and wounding Hamas supporter Khaled al-Shaer during a quarrel at one of the polling stations. Fatah leaders and PA officials, on the other hand, accused Hamas of trying to steal the vote in some areas. They also accused the IDF of hindering the voting process in some areas in the northern West Bank by preventing voters from reaching polling stations.

Otherwise, no major incidents were registered during the elections for 84 municipal and village councils. About 70 percent of voters cast their ballots by the time the voting ended at 7.00 p.m. Final results are expected on Sunday.

Hamas is also suggesting that a number of Hamas members ran independently without disclosing their party affiliations in order to avoid reprisals from the ruling Fatah party which may or may not be a facing saving statement. What will be important to learn is what areas did Hamas win or not win in. A significant portion of Gaza is a no-go zone for the Palestinian Authority and the only rule of law is dispensed by Hamas. If these no-go zones then voted overwhelming for Fatah it very well may be that there is something to the cries of the fix is in. On the other hand, even 33% of the vote going to Hamas still makes it a very formidable foe indeed for the Palestinian Chairman and his ruling Fatah party.

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