Fears of Hamas comeback via the ballot box


A month and a half before they are due to take place, the local elections in the West Bank and Gaza are already prompting a showdown between Fatah and Hamas.

Elections for the Palestinian presidency and parliament have not taken place for over a decade, and the local elections are the only form of representative democracy in the territories.

The last local elections, four years ago, were organised by the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority but boycotted by Hamas.

This time, Gaza's rulers are taking part, and have fielded lists of candidates in most towns and villages.

There are no polls and each area has its own complex web of family loyalties. However, senior figures in Fatah, as well as Israeli security officials, are concerned that after years in which Israel and the PA's security forces have succeeded in preventing Hamas from operating openly in the West Bank, the Islamist movement will make its comeback through the ballot box.

Hamas is now keen to show Gaza as an urban paradise

Last week, Israel arrested a senior Hamas leader in the West Bank, Mohammed Abu Kwaik, who is also the movement's representative on the electoral commission. His arrest was part of a round-up in which at least 20 Hamas activists were detained.

Hamas's leadership in Gaza was quick to accuse Israel of trying to scupper the election but, if anything, the arrests would be more likely to boost their popularity.

The local elections are also taking place in Hamas-ruled Gaza, a fact that has put the onus on the Islamists to show they are providing public services for the Strip's residents.

This has meant a change in the tone of online propaganda videos. Usually, Hamas shows pictures of devastation, highlighting Israel's "cruelty".

Now, they are broadcasting films portraying Gaza as an urban paradise as proof of what their rule has achieved.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive