- ‘Welcome to the edge of freedom’: Biden’s boots touch down in DMZ
- Obama: Hole U.S. ‘digging out of’ requires billions more in unemployment benefits
- Obama’s regulatory agenda will cost U.S. economy $143B next year: report
- Patriot Act author on James Clapper: Fire, prosecute him
- Russia P.M. Medvedev: No amnesty for political prisoners
- Michigan GOP Senate hopeful reminds government is the ‘servant’
- Christmas, by Congress: Members mull a 15-cent tax on trees
- U.S. unemployment falls to five-year low of 7 percent; 203K jobs added
- World mourns Nelson Mandela and celebrates his life; burial set for Dec. 15
- Bill O’Reilly reminds: Nelson Mandela ‘was a communist’
Palestinians hold local elections in West Bank
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Palestinians voted for mayors and local councils in 93 communities across the West Bank on Saturday, their first chance to cast ballots in six years.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party hope the election will revive flagging popular support in an ostensibly fail-proof environment, with Fatah rival Hamas boycotting the West Bank vote. Hamas also blocked elections in Gaza, the territory it seized from Abbas in 2007.
Abbas' party could still walk away bruised, however, if turnout is particularly low or if Fatah renegades competing in several of the larger communities defeat candidates formally endorsed by the movement.
The election is also overshadowed by widespread voter apathy and a general sense of malaise.
Abbas’ Palestinian Authority, a self-rule government in parts of the Israeli-controlled West Bank, is mired in a chronic cash crisis. Efforts to heal the Palestinian political split have failed. And prospects are virtually nil for resuming meaningful negotiations with Israel’s hardline government on setting up a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, the territories Israel captured in 1967.
Loss of hope may keep many from the polls, along with an appeal by Hamas to its supporters to stay home.
At a polling station in Ramallah, only eight people voted in the first two hours, but volunteers there said they expect it to get busier toward the end of the day. Amani Qasim, 30, said she voted because she wanted to see new faces in Ramallah’s city council.
Mahmoud Imran, a 22-year-old law student in the city, said he would not vote. “I no longer believe those politicians. I no longer believe they will bring a state or anything else,” he said.
Polls opened at 7 a.m. (0500 GMT) Saturday and were set to close 12 hours later. Some 515,000 registered voters in 93 cities, towns and villages are eligible, said Fared Tomallah, an election official. Voters pick slates instead of individual candidates, and results are expected by early Sunday.
In an additional 179 communities, residents reached power-sharing deals, many brokered by clan leaders, and decided to forgo elections. In another 82 villages, there were no candidates, said Tomallah.
In several of the main towns, including Ramallah, Nablus and Jenin, Fatah renegades formed their own lists, competing against slates officially endorsed by the party. A victory by the renegade lists would be a major embarrassment for Abbas.
While Saturday’s vote to some extent measures the standing of Fatah, long plagued by infighting, clan loyalties also play a major role in local elections.
Shafiq Deis, a 70-year-old carpenter in the town of Beit Sahour south of Jerusalem, said he and others are guided by family loyalties. “There is no such thing as who is better (as a candidate),” he said. “If my cousin is running, I give it (the vote) to my cousin.”
Hamas could claim victory if the turnout is particularly low. “Our supporters understand that we are not participating, and therefore we expect them not to vote for anyone,” said Ahmed Atoun, a Hamas lawmaker in the West Bank.
- Obama: Hole U.S. 'digging out of' requires billions more in unemployment benefits
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- Obama tries to calm Israeli fears over Iranian nuke deal 'not based on trust'
- 'Dude, I'm dreading that I will have to go': Czech prime minister on Mandela funeral
- PRUDEN: British press horrified as London's new mayor dares to proclaim the truth
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- KNIGHT: Can the ACLU force Catholic hospitals to perform abortions?
- EDITORIAL: Our ideological president
- Craigslist killers: Police say newlyweds stabbed man for thrills
- Obamas call to close Vatican embassy is 'slap in the face' to Roman Catholics
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Get in the middle of all the action inside and outside the boxing ring.
Opinion, analysis, and musings on politics, pop culture, reinvention, and the resultant flotsam and jetsam floating around the right-of-center quadrant of the Left Coast.
The cold hard truth about politics in America today and the state of this once great nation.
Find the latest news and happening that effect those in the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland Metro region.
White House pets gone wild!