(page 2 of 2)
Wins for ambitious local party bosses in Nablus and Jenin may promise futher headaches for national leaders, who have tried to tame rogue Fatah elements in the northern towns by stripping the candidates’ party memberships, and earlier this year purging security officials and waves of arrests.
Once an exile guerrilla group, Fatah traded fatigues for business suits when the Palestinians signed the Oslo accords with Israel in 1994 and began to govern parts of the West Bank, which still remains mostly under Israeli control.
Fatah described the conduct of the election as a victory and a vindication of its platform, which unlike Hamas, still hopes for a negotiated peace settlement with Israel.
Fayyad hailed “an important and constructive process … despite difficult circumstances”.
“The local elections which took place in the northern provinces do not affect reconciliation efforts, but help to deepen unity and engrain democratic principles,” Fayyad said.
Hamas lawmaker Ahmed Attoun hailed the results as a victory for the people who shunned the elections.
“We know that these results are a victory to the Islamist currents which called to boycott these elections, which did not succeed despite the big effort made to bolster turnout,” said Attoun, who won his post in parliamentary elections cancelled by a short, bloody factional war in 2007.
“It shows that the Palestinian people stand with the choice of having elections based on a national consensus,” the West Bank legislator told Reuters.