Fatah Suffers Setback in Palestinian Vote

Low Turnout in West Bank Municipal Election

getty images

By Reuters

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

Gains by rebels and a low turnout have dealt a blow to Fatah, the dominant party in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, which had hoped to paper over internal squabbles and a lack of cash with a strong election showing.

The long-delayed elections for control of 94 West Bank towns and villages took place on Saturday for the first time in six years and were in many ways a vote of confidence in Mahmoud Abbas, the Western-backed president and Fatah chief, and his inner circle.

The powerful Islamist group Hamas boycotted the election and prevented voting in the Gaza Strip, leaving the field largely clear for the mainstream Fatah party, but results released on Sunday showed several party rebels took seats in major cities.

Worse for the leadership, barely half of eligible voters turned out and and Hamas backers in the West Bank also seemed to have stayed at home.

The result may further weaken Abbas’s hand internally, even as he is due to make his case for statehood recognition at the United Nations next month.

“The turnout and the non-participation by the Islamists won’t make them happy, and the political failure both in participation and in results is worse for them than in previous polls,” Hassan Asfour, a critic of the authorities, wrote in an editorial in the online Amad newspaper.

“The preliminary results on the victories of those who dropped out of Fatah … registered a strong rebuke to the way the party is being run.”

Technocrat Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was the butt of violent anti-austerity protests last month throughout the West Bank, along with other party figures, after the heavily indebted government withheld salaries when it ran out of money and hiked fuel prices to meet agreements with Israel.

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.


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!
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • 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."
  • 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.