Thu, Dec 15, 2005 - Page 6 News List

Palestinians trust no one ahead of polls

NEGATIVE RESPONSES The continued lawlessness in the territories has led to a general lack of faith in any of the candidates ahead of the first elections to be held in over a decade


An Israeli soldier points his gun at a Palestinian youth asked to strip as he stands at a military checkpoint along the controversial ``separation barrier'' at the entrance to the holy town of Bethlehem on Tuesday. All Palestinian towns and cities in the West Bank have such checkpoints controlling the movement of Palestinian citizens.


The latest Palestinian poll, six weeks before parliamentary elections, shows that as of now the winner would be "none of the above." The negative response came as internal violence called into question whether the vote could be held at all.

The poll, released on Tuesday by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center (JMCC), showed President Mahmoud Abbas with the highest rate of trust -- just 15.5 percent.

Jailed Fatah young guard leader Marwan Barghouti only received 7.8 percent, followed by Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar with 5.8 percent.

But fully 31.1 percent said they trusted no one -- with the Jan. 25 parliamentary election, the first in a decade, just six weeks off.

More bad news for Abbas was the drop in his backing. In May, Abbas was polling 24.8 percent support. The JMCC survey polled 1,199 people from the West Bank and Gaza and quoted a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

The poll results reflect growing dissatisfaction with the disorderly preparations for the elections. Yesterday was set as the deadline for registering candidates for the election, but the disruptions raised the possibility that the date might be put off -- and officials said privately that the election itself might be delayed.

Abbas was to announce the list of candidates for his Fatah Party yesterday. Fatah leaders met late into the night to discuss their internal crisis.

In recent weeks, Fatah has been embroiled in wrangling over who is to be named on the list. Where primary elections have been held, young activists have won resounding victories over the corruption-tainted old guard, associated with the late president Yasser Arafat.

However, Gaza primaries were called off in the middle because of incidents of violence at polling stations, and Fatah leaders decided to use all the primaries as just one of the factors in deciding the names on the list.

Young activists interpreted that as a last-gasp effort by the oldtimers to push them aside and put themselves back on top. Many of the younger generation are armed members of violent groups like Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, and on Tuesday, they used their weapons to force their way into election commission offices in several places in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, firing in the air, destroying computers and ordering workers out.

In response, election commission director Amar Dweik then announced, "We have suspended all work until we receive security for our offices and our staff."


In other news, four Palestinians were killed and four wounded yesterday after their car was ripped apart in an Israeli air strike near the Gaza Strip's main cargo passage, Palestinian hospital officials and witnesses said.

The Israeli military said it targeted militants from the Popular Resistance Committees who were on their way to carry out an attack against Israel. The car was loaded with explosives, the military said.

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