The convicted murderer of six Israelis in a 1980 terror attack was elected to head Hebron’s municipal council on Sunday, as West Bank Palestinians went to local elections.
Tayseer Abu Sneineh was selected by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah to head the party’s list in Hebron for Saturday’s West Bank elections. Despite the party winning only seven of 15 seats in the West Bank’s largest city, according to official results, Abu Sneineh will have a mandate to head the council.
Abu Sneineh was one of four Palestinian terrorists who on May 2, 1980 attacked a group of Israelis and Jews in a Hebron alley, firing and hurling grenades at them. The attack killed US citizens Tzvi Glatt and Eli HaZe’ev, Canadian Shmuel Marmelstein and Israelis Hanan Krauthammer, Gershon Klein and Ya’akov Zimmerman. Another 20 people were injured in the attack.
The four terrorists were all sentenced to life in prison, but were released in prisoner exchanges later in the decade.
Palestinians in Hebron just elected this man, who murdered 6 Israelis, to be their mayor. Only in the PA can murderers hold public office. pic.twitter.com/ffZ3slvJSb
— Ofir Gendelman (@ofirgendelman) May 14, 2017
The attack occurred on May 2, 1980. The West Bank elections on Sunday fell on the same day of the attack according to the Hebrew calendar, Iyar 17, exactly 37 years later.
Likud Minister Ayoub Kara denounced Abu Sneineh’s victory. That a terrorist was “elected mayor of Hebron is a clear message from the Palestinians [in favor] of terrorist attacks against Israel,” he tweeted. He called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to annul the election results.
Residents of the nearby Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba reported hearing gunfire as Hebron residents celebrated the election results.
The vote provided Palestinians a rare chance to cast ballots, after over a decade without presidential or legislative elections, and Saturday’s election was seen as a test for Abbas’ embattled and nepotism-tainted party.
The results across the West Bank indicated a weak showing by the ruling Fatah party, even though the rival Islamic Hamas terrorist movement stayed out of the race.
Electoral commission chief Hanna Nasser said 393,572 ballots were cast — “nearly 50 percent of voters.”
Nasser said many of the contenders were from Fatah, while in some villages “clans and families” had decided on the candidate lists.
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%. In Nablus, Fatah won 11 of 15 seats, but only after forming an alliance with Islamist candidates.
Ramallah, the Palestinian political capital, saw turnout of less than 40%.
Fatah’s list was notably ahead in the cities of Jenin and Jericho. More than half of the 536 lists participating in the elections were not registered as being affiliated with any party.
While Hamas did not field candidates under its party name, the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine called for a boycott.
It said it would refuse to participate in an election while hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli jails were on hunger strike. The prisoners began the hunger strike on April 17, demanding better conditions.
The failure of Hamas and Fatah to reconcile is seen as a major obstacle to any settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The West Bank and Gaza have not participated in an election together since 2006, when Hamas swept Palestinian parliamentary polls, sparking a conflict that led to near civil war in Gaza the following year.
Abbas’s presidential term was meant to end in 2009, but he has remained in office with no elections organized.
Associated Press contributed to this report.