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Hamas beats Fatah in student elections at Birzeit University

Headline: “Fatah blesses Hamas win in Birzeit elections”
     “The Fatah movement on Thursday blessed the victory of the Hamas-affiliated student list in Birzeit University student elections, an official said.
The party also demanded that Hamas allow elections in all universities in the Gaza Strip, just as elections were carried out in the occupied West Bank.
Fatah spokesperson Fayiz Abu Aita told Ma'an, "We bless the successful elections, the results that every student bloc achieved, and the victory of the Hamas-affiliated bloc."
Abu Aita said the achievement of second place was a failure for the Fatah-affiliated bloc, but pointed out that the party succeeded in many other universities.
The Hamas victory comes only a month after Fatah victories at the Abu Dis campus of Al-Quds University as well as at Bethlehem University, both colleges where Hamas-affiliated students do not participate in the electoral contests.
"This is the democracy we want and accept, and hope for others to believe in and accept it, especially in the Gaza Strip," the Fatah official said.
In the absence of regular national elections, university elections are seen as important indicators of public opinion by political commentators in Palestine, and Birzeit is considered to be the most important campus in the yearly political contests.
The Hamas victory came after a year in which the Fatah-affiliated list dominated student politics, having earned 23 seats compared to the Hamas list's 20 seats.
Voter turnout was reported at 77 percent of all undergraduate students entitled to vote, who numbered around 9,000.
Fatah's blessing of the Hamas victory at Birzeit comes as the two parties struggle to follow through with attempts to form a unity government in April 2014, after being on cold terms since 2006 when Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections.
In the following year, clashes erupted between Fatah and Hamas, leaving Hamas in control of Gaza and Fatah in control of the occupied West Bank.
The unity government never fully took hold amid intense Israeli pressure directly following the agreement, including a massive arrest campaign across the West Bank that left hundreds of Hamas members languishing in jail as well as the more than 50-day assault on Gaza that left more than 2,200 dead.
Fatah and Hamas have traded accusations since, the most recent dispute over payment of government employees in Gaza.
The 2006 elections that led to such deepened divisions between Fatah and Hamas were the last time a public vote was held in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.”
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