Palestinians hold local elections in West Bank but not Gaza

Palestinians hold local elections in West Bank but not Gaza

Palestinians hold local elections in West Bank but not Gaza

Escalating tensions between Hamas and the more moderate Fatah led to Hamas's seizure of Gaza in 2007, while Abbas's party was left with control of the West Bank.

However, turnout was far lower in large cities than in surrounding communities, with the lowest in Nablus, the main city in the northern West Bank, where it was less than 21 percent.

More than a million Palestinians were registered to choose from among 4,400 candidates in a vote that was seen as yet another sign that reconciliation may be a long way off. What the results will actually mean remains unclear because of the boycott of the election by a number of hard-line parties including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah says Hamas prevented its members from taking part in the election and called on its new political leadership to agree to a national unity government followed by comprehensive elections.

Fatah only managed clear victories in two major cities: Jenin and Jericho.

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Several months ago, Hamas announced that it had elected senior military official Yehya Senwar as its leader in the Gaza Strip. But with the rival movements disqualifying each other's candidates, Fatah chose to go forward with the elections in the West Bank alone in a bid to renew its legitimacy.

Hanna Nasser, head of the Central Elections Commission, said the organization plans to approach Hamas about the possibility of holding municipal elections in the Gaza Strip. The 300,000 residents of east Jerusalem were not voting Saturday. More than 200 others either failed to submit an electoral list or submitted only one, meaning automatic appointment. "Municipalities need qualified people, people who are capable of improving the level of services and meet the growing needs of the people".

Official figures put turnout at 53.4 percent, or almost the same as local elections in the West Bank in 2012, according to electoral commission chief Hanna Nasser.

The Palestinian Central Elections Commission is now talking to Hamas about holding municipal elections in the Gaza Strip, AP reported. According to Reuters, it's the first democratic exercise in years.

A Palestinian woman casts her ballot during the municipal elections in the West Bank city of Ramallah on May 13, 2017.

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