The Fatah-affiliated Shabibah won a total of 41 of 81 seats on the student council at an-Najah National University in Nablus, while the Hamas-backed Islamic Bloc won 34 seats, Student Affairs Dean Musa Abu Dia told Wafa, the official Palestinian Authority news site, on Tuesday.
Student elections in the Palestinian territories are viewed as important barometers of public opinion, since Hamas and Fatah have not competed against each other in municipal, legislative or presidential elections since the 2006 legislative elections.
“These elections are an important indication of where the Palestinian street stands,” said Khaled Musleh, an-Najah Central Elections Committee spokesman.
Student elections at an-Najah have not taken place since 2013 because the various student blocs had previously failed to reach agreements to hold elections.
In the 2013 elections at an-Najah, Fatah won 43 seats, while Hamas garnered 33 seats.
Fatah is trumpeting its win, especially since Hamas has won several high-profile student elections recently especially at BirZeit University.
Hamas, for its part, is noting that it has increased its representation while Fatah’s lead has eroded in Najah from 10 seats to 7.
If these elections are a bellwether for the Palestinian mood altogether, then Hamas very possibly would win a general election. Hamas is essentially banned politically from the West Bank (although it can operate freely on college campuses) and the full weight of the PA ensures that Fatah propaganda is dominant in official media. With all those disadvantages, Hamas still wins or does strongly in these student elections, putting to lie the Western fiction that the West Bank is somehow “moderate Fatah territory” while only Gaza is a Hamas stronghold.
While Hamas won’t allow free elections in Gaza universities, it seems likely that Hamas student groups would enjoy landslide victories if such elections could be held in Gaza.
Polls show that while Fatah somewhat leads Hamas in mythical parliamentary elections, a huge percentage of the public is undecided. As we saw in the last elections in 2006, Hamas has the ability to get most of these undecided votes.
The reality is that most Palestinians do not want anything close to what would be considered a real peace with Israel. But this simple truth is one that must be hidden by the Western media and pundits because they have an idea that mentioning the truth is somehow racist.
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