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Sunday, May 14, 2017

West Bank Palestinians take to the polls for local elections Saturday May 13,2017

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Palestinians in the occupied West Bank voted on Saturday  May 13,2017 in municipal elections that underscored deep rifts between president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah party and Islamist rival Hamas which runs the Gaza Strip.
Their failure to reconcile is seen as a major obstacle to any settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The West Bank and Gaza have not participated in an election together since 2006, when Hamas swept Palestinian parliamentary polls, sparking a conflict that led to near civil war in Gaza the following year.
Escalating tensions between Hamas and the more moderate Fatah led to Hamas's seizure of Gaza in 2007, while Abbas's party was left with control of the West Bank.
Voting for around 300 municipal councils opened at 7:00 am (local time) at dozens of schools across the West Bank, which has been occupied by Israel for half a century.
Hanna Nasser, chairman of the Palestinian election commission, said many of the contenders were from Fatah, while in some villages "clans and families" had decided on the candidate lists.
Hamas did not present any candidate lists of its own, saying the vote would only add to divisions.
Polls were due to close at 7:00 pm and final results are expected on Sunday.
Fatah and unaffiliated candidates close to Abbas were expected to win the most seats, as they did in 2012 polls boycotted by Hamas.
More than a million Palestinians were registered to choose from among 4,400 candidates in a vote that was seen as yet another sign that reconciliation may be a long way off

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