The Palestinian Authority will hold its municipal elections on Saturday, throughout the West Bank. These are the first municipal elections since 2005.
The Palestinian Authority has postponed its municipal elections twice over the past year, over disagreements between Fatah – which rules the West Bank and Hamas – which rules Gaza Strip, over their date and process.
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Ramallah expressed hope that the municipal elections would be held in Gaza City as well, but the Palestinian factions' reconciliation negotiations have been deadlocked for months, and the prospects of holding elections in Gaza at this point are slim.
The PA eventually decided to hold the elections only in the West Bank, prompting Hamas to announce that the Gaza government will shun them altogether and will not even have Hamas candidates run for office, leaving Fatah officials to run against each other.
The West Bank is plagued by a serious financial crisis, which has already caused violent riots aimed at Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's government.
Voting early. Palestinian security forces (Photo: AP)
Palestinian political activists in the West Bank told Ynet that politics are the last thing on the Palestinian public's mind right now, and the fact that Hamas will not take part in the race has all but rendered them tedious. Voter turnout, they said, is likely to be minimal.
Much of Hamas' success in the Palestinian municipal elections in 2005 was due the fact that the movement's participation in the elections caused a split within Fatah.
Fatah, it seemed, has learned its lesson, as the movement instructed its operatives not to splinter into too many lists. Some complied and some did not, prompting the Fatah's Executive Committee to dismiss dozens of representatives across the West Bank, in order to prevent them from creating competing lists.
Still, Fatah has only a few rivals to contend with in the coming municipal elections, with only a handful of candidates representing the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
According to political activist in the West Bank, given the faction's domination, all Hamas can do is try and convince the Palestinian public not to vote as means of protest over what they see as Fatah's failed rule.
The Palestinian Authority's Election Committee, meanwhile, if forging on in exemplary fashion: The committee has been able to present its voters book, which numbers 505,000 registered voters, in record time, as well as register all interested parties and set up ballots.
The committee has also set up a website, offering potential voters all the information they need.
The municipal elections in the West Bank will be held across 295 towns and villages, in 643 ballot stations.
The Palestinian security forces have coordinated their operations with Israel.
You can contact Elior Levy, Ynet's Palestinian Affairs Correspondent, at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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