losangelesnewstoday.com April 22, 2018

Palestine West Bank holds elections as Gaza Strip left behind

15 May 2017, 11:12 | Katrina Lee

Palestinians hold local elections in West Bank but not Gaza

Palestinian film festival opens in Gaza

Tribal loyalties often trump party affiliation at the local level, but Saturday's vote is also seen as a test for the embattled, nepotism-tainted Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

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

Hanna Nasser, chairman of the Palestinian election commission, said numerous contenders were from Fatah, while in some villages "clans and families" had decided on the candidate lists.

They also come more than 10 years after Hamas won the majority of seats in the parliament, which left the global community to deal with the implications of a Palestinian nationalist and Islamist movement finding its feet within the mainstream Palestinian political machine.

Polls were due to close at 7:00 pm and final results are expected on Sunday.

Around 11,000 security forces personnel had cast a vote on Thursday in early elections.

Months of political and legal wrangling preceded Saturday's elections.

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Opponents of the charter boycotted the ceremony that took place in Doha, the capital of Qatar, and simultaneously via video conference in the Commodore Hotel in the Gaza Strip, according to Hamas sources.

Hamas did not run any candidates under its party label in the vote.

"The elections are happening without national consensus".

Hanna Nasser, head of the Central Elections Commission, said the organization plans to approach Hamas about the possibility of holding municipal elections in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah says Hamas prevented its members from taking part in the election. But it has urged its supporters to vote for representatives running in the current race.

Following the 2006 election, however, the global community refused to work with Hamas governments until it renounced violence and recognized Israel and past peace agreements. That laid the ground for a political rupture - Hamas and Fatah fought a short civil war in Gaza in 2007, since when Hamas has governed the small coastal enclave.

In Nablus, the biggest West Bank city, turnout was only 20 percent; in Al Bireh, Ramallah's twin city, 28 percent; and Hebron, the second-largest West Bank city, 30 percent.

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