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January 27, 2005
Gaza Going For Hamas Instead Of Abbas

The BBC reports that in early exit polling, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have elected Hamas majorities in local councils. These results would appear to offer a surprising repudiation to the newly-elected president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas:

The Palestinian militant group Hamas is reported to have done well in local elections in the Gaza Strip.

One exit poll indicates that it is likely to take three out of the four biggest districts in territory. ...

Opinions polls suggest that Hamas - which also runs charities and is regarded by many Palestinians as untainted by corruption - has about 25% support.

Just over a third of Gaza's councils are being contested, and turnout is reported to have been high.

The government will release official results tomorrow, although the Abbas administration already disputes the exit polling. A Hamas victory in Gaza on the scope that the BBC describes will communicate a distrust of Abbas and a continuing radicalization of Gaza residents, making the prospects of peace even after an Israeli pullout rather dim. With established authority over the Gaza Strip, the confidence of the Israelis to rely on local police to prevent terrorist attacks will not be terribly enhanced ... since the terrorists will be in charge of the local police.

Of course, after the shenanigans in the last Palestinian presidential election, we may see a miraculous recovery for Fatah candidates by tomorrow morning. I get the feeling it may not matter much either way.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 27, 2005 9:14 PM

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