The main issues

Here are some of the main issues surrounding the Palestinian elections.

    Relations with Israel is a key issue in the polls

    Negotiations with Israel

    Fatah wants to resume negotiations with Israel

    to achieve an independent Palestinian state in the West

    Bank and Gaza Strip, seized by Israel in the 1967 Middle

    East war.

    Islamic resistance group Hamas has sent mixed

    messages about talking to Israel - sometimes rejecting it,

    other times not ruling it out.

    Hamas advocates

    Israel's destruction, but at the same time says a long-term

    truce might be possible.

    Two independent parties,

    Independent Palestine and the Third Way, favour negotiations

    with Israel.

    Use of violence

    Fatah rejects the use of violence, although armed

    men affiliated with Fatah have carried out repeated

    attacks on Israelis and have occasionally clashed with

    rival Palestinians.

    Hamas favours "armed struggle" against

    Israel, saying it will respond with force to Israeli

    attacks, although like most armed factions, has largely

    honoured a ceasefire which expired at the end of 2005.

    Islamic Jihad, which is boycotting the

    elections, continues to carry out bombings in

    Israel.

    Jerusalem, refugees and borders

    All parties demand East Jerusalem as the capital of a

    future Palestinian state and say Palestinians who lost

    their homes during Israel's creation in 1948 should be

    allowed the right of return.

    Israel strongly opposes both demands.

    Fatah, Independent Palestine and the Third Way parties

    accept the 1993 Oslo peace accords, which recognised Israel

    and set up the Palestinian Authority.

    Hamas rejects Oslo

    and is vague about its vision of a future state, but says

    sovereignty in the West Bank and Gaza would be only a first

    stage towards an Arab state in all of historic Palestine.

    Another group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of

    Palestine, in the past has spoken of a single state to be

    shared equally by Jews and Arabs.

    Corruption

    All parties have pledged a frontal attack on corruption,

    including Fatah, widely seen as the main offender.

    The

    growing popularity of Hamas is largely due to its image of

    incorruptibility and pledge to clean up government.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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