Fatah beats Hamas at university elections for 2nd time this month
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Fatah beats Hamas at university elections for 2nd time this month

Abbas loyalists win at small Hebron college; student elections seen as a barometer of Palestinian public opinion in the absence of general votes

Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent.

Palestinian demonstrators hold Fatah party flags as they demonstrate in the center of the West Bank city of Hebron on November 4, 2015. (AFP/HAZEM BADER)
Palestinian demonstrators hold Fatah party flags as they demonstrate in the center of the West Bank city of Hebron on November 4, 2015. (AFP/HAZEM BADER)

Fatah, the ruling party of Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority, on Wednesday bested its political rival Hamas in West Bank student university elections for the second time this month.

Fatah’s Shabiba party took 19 seats in elections at the Polytechnic University in Hebron, while Hamas’s Islamic bloc party won 11 seats, and a left-wing group got just one seat.

Last year at the Polytechnic, Fatah won 18 seats, while Hamas took 12. Polytechnic is a small university, with just 5,381 students, out of which 3,014 voted.

Student elections are seen by analysts as a barometer of the Palestinian public in the absence of any elections that have included Hamas since 2006.

Earlier this month Fatah won the student elections at An-Najah University in Nablus, the biggest Palestinian university in the West Bank.

At An-Najah, Fatah’s party took 41 seats, Hamas’s party 34, while a number of left-wing groups won a total of 6 seats.

The wins for Fatah’s Shabiba party represents a turnaround from recent years that saw Hamas’s Islamic bloc winning major university elections, especially in Ramallah’s Birzeit University, which has yet to hold elections in 2017.

Palestinian supporters of the Hamas movement attend a rally prior to the student council elections at Birzeit University, on the outskirts of the city of Ramallah, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (photo credit: Abbas Momani/AFP)
Palestinian supporters of the Hamas movement attend a rally prior to the student council elections at Birzeit University, on the outskirts of the city of Ramallah, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (Abbas Momani/AFP)

 

Fatah spokesperson Osama Qawasmeh said the results of the election were proof of the “patriotic awareness of students, and the rallying around the Fatah movement is due to its high patriotic and moral values,” the official PA news outlet Wafa reported.

Qawasme called on Hamas, a terror group that took control of the Gaza Strip 10 years ago in a violent battle with Fatah, to allow for student elections in the enclave.

There have been no student elections in Gaza since Hamas took control, Qawasmeh said.

 

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