Photo: AP
Headed to government? Hamas?
Photo: AP
Photo: AFP
Operations halted (Archive photo)
Photo: AFP
IDF halts operations in PA cities
Two days before Palestinian parliament elections, all arrangements completed by Israeli, Palestinian defense establishments; army's West Bank operations halted, apart from 'ticking bomb' cases. New poll: Fatah expected to win 40 percent of votes, Hamas – 29 percent
Two days before the Palestinian parliament elections, the Palestinian Authority, Israel and the United States are preparing for a possibility of Hamas gaining a significant share of the seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council, and maybe even winning the elections.


According to a new poll published Monday morning by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion headed by Dr. Nabil Kukali, Fatah is expected to win 39.6 percent of the votes, compared to 28.8 percent who will vote for Hamas.


The poll also revealed that the Independent Palestine Party, headed by Mustafa Barghouti, is expected to gain 7.7 percent of the votes.


Israeli officials are deliberating on how to react in light of Hamas' expected achievement. Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has appointed a special team to follow the political and security developments.


The IDF and the police are making arrangements in a bid to allow the democratic procedure in the PA to go ahead as planned and not to be perceived by the world as a disrupting factor.


Security officials said that the elections are being held in light of heavy terror attack warnings, especially on the part of the Islamic Jihad (which is not taking part in the elections) in the northern West Bank.


The IDF, however, halted its operations inside the Palestinian cities in the West Bank on Monday morning, excluding cases of "ticking bombs." The order will remain in force until Thursday.


On Sunday night, just before the operations were stopped, security forces detained 24 wanted Palestinians across the West Bank.


Joint coordination team


The ballot boxes for the elections were transferred Sunday from Ramallah to the centers of the Palestinian cities. On Tuesday, the ballot boxes will be moved from the cities to all the voting points in the towns and villages.


The Israeli and Palestinian defense establishments are preparing for a possibility that election opposers – and maybe even Fatah members who fear a Hamas victory – will try and disrupt the democratic procedure, whether by shooting at voting stations or by carrying out terror attacks against Israeli targets.


On the Election Day, a joint coordination team of the Civil Administration will convene in Ramallah. In Area A, the IDF will allow police officers to carry weapons in order to maintain order, as well as in a number of places in Area B.


The IDF approved the plans on all the army divisions as preparation for the elections, and a number of coordination meetings took place between brigade commanders and their Palestinian counterparts.


The Tul Karm-Nablus route will serve as a passage for voters, but they will undergo a full security check there. All candidates will be allowed to pass without restrictions, after the Civil Administration transferred their names to the army.


Also, international observers, who arrived at the area in order to supervise the elections, are expected to pass through the checkpoints, as well as a large number of journalists who are flocking to the area from all across the world.


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