Canceled West Bank vote affirms Fatah decline

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  1. P F Tinmore

    P F Tinmore Platinum Member

    Dec 6, 2009
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    RAMALLAH, West Bank – The Palestinian party expected to help deliver a Mideast peace deal is in such disarray these days, it's afraid to compete in an election even with its main rival out of the picture.

    Next month's municipal balloting in the West Bank should have handed an easy victory to the Western-backed Fatah movement since its bitter competitor, the Islamic militant Hamas, decided to sit out the race. However, with strong signs that independents were poised to win in key towns, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Fatah's leader, called off the election at the last minute.

    The latest sign of Fatah's decline raises new concerns about a growing political vacuum in the West Bank and sets the stage for a rocky transition once 76-year-old Abbas leaves office.

    Abbas has groomed no successor and has already overstayed his term as president by 17 months because his standoff with Hamas — following the militants' violent takeover of Gaza in 2007 — has made it impossible to hold general elections.

    Fatah blames its disarray largely on Israel, saying it has been badly hurt by the prolonged stalemate in peace talks. The party hitched its future to a deal with Israel in the 1990s and got to head a Palestinian Authority with a measure of self-government, but it has failed to deliver Palestinian statehood leaving the party without a program.

    Fatah has been burned twice before by heading into elections despite warnings of impending defeat. Hamas scored heavily in 2005 municipal elections and a year later won the parliamentary poll.

    "The public is likely to view the cancellation as an indication of a major failure in state and institution-building, a process led by Fayyad and his government, and an indication of the fragmentation, panic and lack of leadership within Fatah," he wrote in presenting his latest poll this week.

    The survey indicates that while Fayyad is increasingly popular as prime minister, he'd trail behind most other hypothetical candidates in a race for president, according to Shikaki, who polled 1,270 respondents with an error margin of 3 percentage points.

    For now, Fatah's only hope is to keep Abbas in power as long as possible, otherwise Fatah and the Palestinian Authority "will be in big trouble," said analyst Hani Masri. "Both might collapse."

    Canceled West Bank vote affirms Fatah decline - Yahoo! News

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