Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza recently went to the polls to elect more than two-thousand-five-hundred members of eighty-four municipal councils. More than four-hundred-thousand Palestinians were eligible to vote and an estimated seventy to eighty percent cast their ballots. Fatima Essa of Rafah was one of the voters. "I don't want to see more problems," Ms. Essa said, alluding to differences among Palestinian factions. "We are all brothers and sisters," said Suleiman al-Arja, another Palestinian voter in Rafah. "We want new faces. We want change."
According to news reports, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction won a majority of council seats. Fatah won control of fifty-two out of eighty-four municipal councils. President Abbas was elected earlier this year on a platform that rejected terrorism and violence as a way to a Palestinian state. The radical Palestinian group Hamas won a majority in twenty-four municipal councilw. Hamas is one of the main terrorist groups responsible for attacks on Israel.
Khalil Shikaki is director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. He said that Hamas's showing "wasn't because Hamas had a splendid record of achievement. It was more that Hamas was very organized while Fatah was fragmented." State Department spokesman Tom Casey said the U.S. "congratulate[s] the Palestinian people on having conducted another round of peaceful elections":
"We certainly also want to recognize that Israel and the Palestinians cooperated effectively during this election cycle and we hope that cooperation will continue. We definitely do want to see broader progress towards reforms and democratization and renewal of Palestinian institutions."
President George W. Bush says that the U.S. looks forward to working with a Palestinian leadership that is committed "to fighting terror and committed to the cause of democratic reform."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.