Hamas drawing level with Fatah

Hamas, the most powerful Islamist group in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, will be running neck and neck with the ruling Fatah party in next week’s legislative elections.

    Hamas' tone has been noticably moderate in campaigning

    According to the latest opinion survey by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center, Hamas would receive 30.2% and Fatah 32.3% respectively of Palestinian votes in the West Bank if the elections were to be held today.


    This translates into 40 seats for Hamas and 42 to Fatah in the 132 seat Palestinian parliament.


    According to the poll published on Friday, The Independent Palestine Party, headed by former Presidential candidate Mustafa al Barghouthi, would receive 12.6% (16-17 seats) while the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) would grab 7.6 %, corresponding to 10 seats.


    In the Gaza Strip, the poll showed that Hamas would receive 36.4 % of the vote while Fatah would receive 36.7 per cent.

    The poll was based on a randomly-chosen sample of 1000 persons in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

    Common message

    Hamas says it expects to win up to 40-45% of the vote on Wednesday.


    Similarly, Fatah says it is sure it will emerge main winner in the elections.


    “Eventually we will have to distinguish between the ideological and the political”

    Aziz Dweik, Hamas candidate

    Meanwhile, the various factions and candidates contending the elections are finalising their campaigns by refining their messages to a politically-savvy public much of which seems to have had made up its mind on whom to vote for on the 25 January.


    Nearly all contenders are vowing to fight corruption and foster good governance.


    Hamas is running on a platform of Change and Reform and is striving to persuade voters to vote for Islamist lists because they are “honest, tried, and untainted by corruption.”


    For its part, Fatah attacks Hamas' program as “suicidal for the Palestinian cause.”


    Moderate tone


    It is obvious that Hamas is refraining from talking about “destroying Israel” and is parsimoniously speaking about armed resistance against Israel.


    Aziz Dweik, a prominent Hamas candidate in the southern West Bank town of Hebron said Hamas had no choice but to moderate its political language.


    “Eventually we will have to distinguish between the ideological and the political,” he told aljazeera while campaigning at the Fawar refugee camp near Hebron on Thursday.


    Dweik said he predicted that Hamas would win between 50-60 seats out of the 132 seats making up the Palestinian legislative council.


    Fatah candidates are confident
    they will hold off Hamas

    He said Hamas recognised the need to show “political responsibility” and “moderation” once the movement reached parliament or, indeed, if it joined the next Palestinian government.


    On Friday, Hamas held huge rallies all over the West Bank and Gaza Strip during which tens of thousands of supporters were addressed by candidates.


    In Nablus, candidates accentuated the need to enhance the standard of living as well as creating more jobs.


    In the Gaza Strip, huge crowds shouted in unison “Hamas, Hamas” as Islamist candidates vowed to “restore the dignity of the people” if elected.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera



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