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“In this election, a ‘test drive’ for later elections, Fatah has failed to appear unified, and this will weaken the party,” said political analyst Khalil Shaheen.
The decision to hold a municipal election just in the West Bank is a tacit admission that the landlocked territory is, to all intents and purposes, already a distinct entity from Gaza.
However, a decision to hold national votes for a new president or parliament, although already overdue, would effectively seal the separation - a step neither Abbas nor Hamas wants to take at this stage.
That means the forthcoming municipal vote might be the last election the Palestinians can vote in for quite some time.