Palestinian Vote Offers Small Dose of Democracy

Fatah Dominates, With Some Choices, in Local Elections

getty images

By Reuters

Published October 21, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Palestinians voted in local elections in the Israel-occupied West Bank on Saturday, their first vote for six years and one with little choice, out of step with democratic revolutions elsewhere in the Arab world.

The results were expected to largely reaffirm the Western-backed, mainly secular Fatah party, which runs a de facto government in the slivers of land not policed by Israel, in the face of a boycott by its Islamist arch-rival, Hamas.

While uprisings brought Arab governments from Morocco to Egypt to accommodate long suppressed Islamist parties, single party rule in the West Bank persists along with Fatah’s feud with the more militant and anti-Israel Hamas, which has ruled the coastal Gaza Strip since the two groups clashed in 2007.

“We do not recognize the legitimacy of these elections and we call for them to be stopped in order to protect the Palestinian people and protect their unity,” Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said.

Haniyeh, who took office when Hamas won a surprise majority in a parliamentary vote in 2006 - an outcome nullified by the civil war that followed a year later, decried the latest poll as “unilateral elections removed from a national consensus.”

Fatah finally found time ripe for the repeatedly-delayed local elections. The party edged out Hamas in university ballots throughout the West Bank earlier this year and opinion polls show flagging support for the Islamist group since it began the uphill task of governing impoverished and crowded Gaza.

With Gaza not participating in Saturday’s vote and a majority of West Bank residents living in areas where local councils are running uncontested, the election was less meaningful than in previous years.

Less than half of citizens surveyed by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research said they would vote, and an even smaller number thought the ballot would be fair.

But fissures within Fatah lent some suspense to the polls. Some local leaders struck out on their own after being spurned from official lists in a sign of personal disputes. They may garner a showing giving them an influential say in local councils.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.