Hamas wins Palestinian university elections, proving growing support in PA-controlled areas

Gaza-based terror group enjoys strong support from PA Arabs as embattled Mahmoud Abbas’ popularity continues to decline.

By World Israel News Staff

Representatives from Hamas won a plurality of seats on Birzeit University’s student council, in a clear example of the terror group’s growing popularity among Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria.

Hamas was awarded 25 seats out of 51, with the Fatah party that currently governs the region trailing behind at 20, and various smaller political groups picking up the remaining six seats.

Because Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas has refused to hold national elections since 2006, the university vote constitutes a rare opportunity to measure the sentiments of Palestinian voters.

Octogenarian Abbas is wildly unpopular among his constituents, with the vast majority expressing that they wish for him to resign. Rumored to be in poor health for years, Abbas has failed to appoint or acknowledge a public successor, leaving a political vacuum that may be leveraged by Hamas after he dies.

Birzeit University officials told media that within PA-controlled enclaves, the educational institution’s elections are taken seriously by the public as a whole, due to their lack of opportunities to express their political opinions.

“What makes the election at Birzeit University significant is that it reflects the different political perspectives in Palestinian society,” Iyad Tomar, head of the election committee and dean of students at Birzeit University, told Reuters.

“It is the only place where we can exercise our democratic right and vote,” Anan Safi, a student who voted for the Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), said to Reuters. “We don’t have presidential or national elections.”

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Critics of the PA, like the late political activist Nizar Banat, are often prosecuted by the entity. Speaking out against PA corruption may lead to imprisonment or even murder at the hands of the body’s security forces.

Notably, while Hamas concentrates extensive resources on campaigns aimed at attracting supporting in PA-controlled areas in Judea and Samaria, the terror group does not permit elections in universities in the Gaza Strip.