Hamas wins Palestinian polls

Occupied Jerusalem – Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, ostensibly has won Wednesday’s parliamentary elections, according to latest results.

Hamas leaders in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip have indicated that the movement may have won as many as 70 seats out of the 132 contested seats, making up the Palestinian legislative council.

Hamas Gaza leader Ismael Haniyya said he had “solid information” indicating the movement won more than 50% of the overall vote.

Haniyya’s estimates don’t seem highly exaggerated.

In Hebron, for example, Hamas won all the 9 contested seats at the district level, with Sheikh Nayef Rajoub, coming at the top.

All Fatah and Fatah-affiliated candidates, including such former PA leaders as Jebril Rajoub (Nayef’s brother), former PA ministers Nabil Amr, Jamal Shubaki and Rafik Natsheh, reportedly have failed to win seats.

Moreover, a myriad of independent candidates have been unsuccessful in their bid to win a seat.

Similarly, Hamas did very well in other districts and such erstwhile “Fatah territory” as Nablus, Salfit, Tubas, Tulkarm.

In Ramallah, the PA capital and Fatah’s stronghold, Hamas reportedly won all the four contested seats.

There are also unconfirmed reports that Hamas won all or most of the contested seats in East Jerusalem.

Likewise, in Gaza Hamas seems to have defeated Fatah in most districts.

Conceding defeat
Meanwhile, Fatah officials have begun slowly and begrudgingly recognizing the “new reality.”

Fatah West Bank leader Hussein al Sheikh said during an interview with the Israeli state-run radio (cal Yisrael) Thursday that Fatah was slowly coming to terms with Hamas’s victory.

He said he received reliable information showing that Hamas won the polls, receiving a larger number of seats than Fatah did.

He said Fatah would have to have “a lot of soul searching with itself”

He also stressed that Fatah ought to respect the will of the people and refrain lawless activities.

The PA security chief blamed Israel for “Hamas’s victory,” saying the collapse of the peace process, the rampant corruption and lawlessness have convinced the bulk of the Palestinian people that voting for Fatah is futile.

Greater defeat
While Fatah ostensible defeat was comparatively a measured one, leftist, liberal parties and independent candidates have apparently suffered a devastating defeat.

According to the latest results, all remaining lists, including Mustafa al Barghouthi’s Independent Palestine, will only receive a handful of seats.

Barghouthi during a televised interview Wednesday night said he was sure his movement would win at least 15% of the total vote.

Similarly, the Third Way, a liberal list led by former Finance Minister Salam Fayyad seems to have won no more than three seats.

The same thing can be said about two other leftist parties, including Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Badil list which is a coalition of the democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and the secular Feda party founded by former PA minister Yasser Abed Rabbo.

Palestinian commentators, surprised, some even shocked, by the election outcome, have argued that the face of Palestinian politics will not be the same after now.

Talal Ukal, a Palestinian commentator and political analyst, described the election as a watershed.

“It is obvious that we are witnessing the beginning of a new era and we all must come to terms and adapt to the new reality,” he said during a televised interview Thursday.