April 23, 2016 For the first time since 2007, Hamas has decisively won Birzeit University council elections in Ramallah.
The results are significant, due to Birzeit’s standing as one of the top universities in Palestine, and may reflect wider political opinion in the occupied West Bank, currently governed by the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority.
A university official announced that 7,039 students voted with a turnout of 77 percent. The Hamas-affiliated bloc won 26 seats, while al-Shabiba, the pro-Fatah bloc, managed to take 19, a sharp decrease from their success in last year’s 23 seats.
The leftist group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, came third with five seats.
Although the elections were held as Hamas and Fatah are struggling through reconciliation negotiations and salary disputes, Khalil Hindi, president of the university, praised the elections for having taken place peacefully and in a democratic atmosphere.
During the election campaign, Hamas supporters criticised the continuing security collaboration between Fatah and Israel, and emphasised the movement’s military achievements in the 2014 Gaza war.
“Everyone is a winner in Birzeit University and we all win when we rely on democracy,” said Khaled Meshaal, the political leader of Hamas.
“My advice to the Islamic bloc is to drop their affiliations and focus on serving all students in the university in collaboration with all the other student blocs.”
Following the news, student supporters of Hamas have been holding celebratory rallies across the campus.
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The Hamas charter says that it is “one of the wings of the Muslim Brothers in Palestine” and soon after Hamas took over the Gaza strip, Muslim Brotherhood representatives traveled to Gaza from Egypt through the newly-opened border to review Hamas military formations. A Hamas journalist has acknowledged the role that the “international Muslim Brotherhood” has played in providing funds for the purchase of weapons and Hamas is known to be supported financially and politically by the global Muslim Brotherhood.