Hamas Beats Fatah in Student Elections at Major West Bank University for Second Year Straight
For the second year in a row, Hamas won Birzeit University’s student elections in the West Bank on Wednesday, indicating a growing shift in the overall political mood of the Palestinian people, the Middle East Eye reported.
Hamas beat Fatah — the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority (PA) — in a close race, winning 25 seats to Fatah’s 21. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) garnered five seats and the Palestinian Democratic Union and the Palestinian People’s Party each received one seat. Hamas congratulated its student arm for the win.
According to the report, “Political observers across the country closely watch the Birzeit student election, as the university is considered to be the West Bank’s hub of political activism.” The election highlights a more general and increasing divide within Palestinian society, which is split in support of the PA (commonly referred to as “moderate”) — led by President Mahmoud Abbas– and Hamas, the terror organization ruling the Gaza Strip.
Student Hussam Mansour told the website Mondoweiss — self-described as a vehicle for “news and analysis unavailable through the mainstream media regarding the struggle for Palestinian human rights” — that he voted for Hamas because he doesn’t “see the PA doing anything good for the people, and everything that goes to Fatah goes to the PA government.”
Pro-Israel blogger Elder of Ziyon wrote that “the myth of the moderate Palestinian took another blow” with this latest Hamas victory. Hamas party members, the blogger wrote, openly touted their support for terror against Israel while campaigning and, even more notable, “The Fatah faction also attempted to buttress its terror credentials by calling itself the ‘Martyr Yasser Arafat bloc.’”
A March poll by the Palestine Center for Policy and Survey Research indicated that if Palestinian elections were held today, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh would win over Abbas by a margin of 11 percentage points. When it comes to the “Oslo generation” — youth between the ages of 18 and 22 — the poll found they are “the least supportive of the two-state solution, the most supportive of stabbing attacks, and the most likely to think that an armed intifada would help Palestinians achieve national rights in ways that negotiations could not.” Sixty-nine percent of these youths also believe Abbas should resign from office, five percent higher than the general population.
Birzeit University is noted as being one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the West Bank. According to the university, out of 9,892 eligible student voters, 7,578 cast their votes, with voter turnout at 76.61 percent.