Israeli media is reporting that Hamas has won a significant victory in student council elections at Birzeit University, a non-governmental public university located in Birzeit, Palestine near the West Bank city of Ramallah. According to the Haaretz report, the election results reflect the mood on the “Palestinian street”:
April 26, 2015 Hamas has scored a convincing victory in the elections for the student council of Birzeit University, which is considered the most liberal of all West Bank Palestinian universities and a reliable indicator of the mood on the Palestinian street. The April 22 elections were a focus of interest over the weekend in the Palestinian political arena, with some observers terming Hamas’ triumph as a political earthquake and a sea change in the mood in the West Bank, while others saw it as a localized failure that harked back to the trend that characterized the campus for many years, particularly in the years immediately following the 1993 Oslo Accords.
The Hamas-affiliated Islamic Wafaa’ Bloc won 26 out of the council’s 51 seats, compared to 19 seats for Fatah’s student party, five for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and one seat for a coalition of other parties. Hamas won most of the student council elections between 2003 and 2007, when Fatah took the lead. Hamas did not contest the elections in 2009 and 2010, when it accused the Palestinian Authority of persecuting it. In 2012 the results were a mirror image of this year, with 26 council seats for Fatah and 19 for Hamas. In 2013 and 2014 Fatah’s lead over Hamas narrowed, to 23 versus 20.
Hamas and its supporters consider the student faction’s seven-seat lead over Fatah in this year’s election an overwhelming victory, so much so that in his congratulatory message to the students, Hamas leader Khaled Meshal heralded it as ‘the first step in the national Palestinian process of completing the establishment of the Palestinian institutions in the Palestinian Authority and in the PLO and in acting to end the occupation.’
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