Fatah takes most councils; Hamas wins larger towns
Despite the Fatah movement's technical victory in Palestinian Authority local elections held last Thursday, Hamas scored unprecedented victories and now controls at least 48 local authorities in the territories.
After the initial vote count last Thursday night, both PA and Hamas leaders claimed sweeping election victories.
Fatah said it had won 55 percent of the seats in the local councils. Even if this figure is correct, it does not accurately reflect Fatah's situation. Fatah won more seats, but they are concentrated in small, unimportant authorities, while Hamas gained significant victories in most of the larger towns in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Fatah candidates won decisive victories in 38 of the 82 authorities in which elections were held, Haaretz has learned. The 38 authorities have a total population of approximately 230,000. Hamas won in 30 authorities, whose population exceeds 600,000. Candidates who are not clearly identified with either organization and independent candidates won in 12 authorities, with some 70,000 residents.
In Atara, near Ramallah, militants took over the polling station and the results of the election are not clear yet.
Only seven of the 38 authorities in which Fatah won have more than 4,000 voters - Qabatiyah, Kafr Ra'i, Salfit, Beit Jala, Beit Sahur, Tarqumiya and Abassan, the largest town in the central Gaza Strip (population 19,500, 9,500 voters).
In contrast, of the 30 authorities in which the Hamas won, 11 have more than 4,000 voters. These include Qalqilyah - the largest West Bank city where elections were held, Sila al-Hartiyah, Tail, Takua, Samoa, Sair and Beit Ula.
In the Gaza Strip, Hamas won in the three largest authorities - Rafah (187,000 residents and 74,000 voters), the Bureij refugee camp (37,000 residents and 15,500 voters) and Beit Lahia (60,000 residents and 22,500 voters).
Hamas, which appeared to have the edge over Fatah in the Gaza Strip as well, also won a clear victory in the midsized authorities in the West Bank.
Since deciding to take part in PA local elections, Hamas has taken control of 48 authorities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, whose population totals some 600,000. Fatah has won control of 56 authorities during the first two round of elections. Hundreds of other authorities, where elections have not been held yet, are headed by appointed Fatah officials.
During the Yasser Arafat era, the PA decided to hold local elections in stages. The PA chose the authorities where elections have been held so far because they thought, erroneously, that Fatah would be able to score easy wins there.