Palestinian legislative election, 2006
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politics and government of
the Palestinian territories
Elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), the legislature of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) were held on 25 January 2006. The result was a victory for Hamas, who won with 74 seats of the 132 seats, whilst the ruling Fatah won just 45. In terms of votes received, Hamas took 44.45% of the vote, whilst Fatah received 41.43% and of the Electoral Districts, Hamas party candidates received 41.73% and Fatah party candidates received 36.96%.
The Prime Minister, Ahmed Qurei, resigned, but at the request of President Mahmoud Abbas, remained as interim Prime Minister until 19 February 2006, when Hamas leader Ismail Haniya formed a new government.
Following the elections, several members of Hamas, including 20 MPs and eight ministers were arrested by Israel.
- 1 Background
- 2 Electoral system
- 3 Campaign
- 4 Opinion polls
- 5 Conduct
- 6 Results
- 7 Aftermath
- 8 References
- 9 External links
This were the second PLC elections since 1996. Subsequent elections have repeatedly been postponed due to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinian voters in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank including East Jerusalem were eligible to participate in the election. Earlier, the 2005 municipal elections and the 9 January 2005 presidential election had taken place.
Ahead the elections, Hamas had taken distance from its 1988 call for the destruction of Israel, but still refused to recognise the right of Israel to exist as long the occupation was not ended. Nevertheless, in response to Hamas' victory and the formation of a Hamas-led government, the Quartet, a major financial backer of the PNA, cut funds to the Palestinian Authority following the elections. Additionally, Israel withheld tax revenues it collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, amounting some 50 million dollars monthly and the Palestinian economy subsequently plummeted. The US and Israel attempted to undermine Hamas and force it from power, while strengthening President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah.
After the elections, in a 6 June 2006 letter to US president Bush, Hamas offered a longterm truce with Israel, while accepting a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. Bush did not even answer the letter and US and Israel maintained a boycott of the Palestinian Authority and collective punishment.
The previous elections chose 88 PLC members from several multimember constituencies via block voting[disambiguation needed]. In advance of the 2006 elections, Palestinian electoral law was changed to expand the PLC from 88 to 132 seats and create a degree of proportional representation via a parallel voting system.
Each voter receives two ballots. On the first, the voter chooses one of several nationwide party lists. 66 of the PLC seats are distributed proportionally (in accordance with the Sainte-Laguë method) to those lists that receive more than 2% of the total list votes; if a list receives six seats, then the six candidates at the top of the list are elected to the PLC. Each list must include at least one woman in the first three names, at least one woman in the next four names, and at least one woman in the five names that follow.
The second ballot is for the voter's local constituency. The voter can cast up to as many votes for individual candidates as there are seats in his or her constituency. Votes are unweighted, and top-vote getters are elected to the PLC. For example, a voter in the Nablus district could cast up to six votes; the six candidates with the highest vote totals are elected.
In some constituencies, one or two seats are set aside for the Christian candidates with the most votes. For instance, in Ramallah, a five-seat constituency, the Christian candidate with the most votes will be elected to the PLC, even if he or she is not among top five candidates overall. The six seats reserved for Christians are considered the minimum quota for their representation in the council. .
The number of seats each electoral district receives is determined by its population; the breakdown is as follows:
- Jerusalem: 6 seats (2 reserved for Christians)
- Tubas: 1 seat
- Tulkarm: 3 seats
- Qalqilya: 2 seats
- Salfit: 1 seat
- Nablus: 6 seats
- Jericho: 1 seat
- Ramallah: 5 seats (1 reserved for Christians)
- Jenin: 4 seats
- Bethlehem: 4 seats (2 reserved for Christians)
- Hebron: 9 seats
- North Gaza: 5 seats
- Gaza City: 8 seats (1 reserved for Christians)
- Deir al-Balah: 3 seats
- Khan Younis: 5 seats
- Rafah: 3 seats
- Total: 66 seats (6 reserved for Christians)
Before the 2006 election, the PLC was dominated by the Fatah movement, which held 68 of the 88 seats. However, Fatah had been beset by internal strife in advance of the elections, with younger and more popular figures like Mohammed Dahlan, who took part in the negotiations of the 1993 Oslo Accords, and Marwan Barghouti (the latter currently serving five life sentences in an Israeli jail on terrorism charges) levelling allegations of corruption against Fatah leadership. Fatah organised primary elections to determine its list members, but the results were disputed and central lists imposed in some areas. The younger faction submitted a list dubbed Al-Mustaqbal ("the Future"), headed by Barghouti. However, on December 28, 2005, the leadership of the two factions agreed to submit a single list to voters, headed by Barghouti, who began actively campaigning for Fatah from his jail cell. Despite this, the two groups were by no means fully reconciled.
List of Change and Reform
The main component of this list was the Islamist Hamas movement, Fatah's main rival on the Palestinian political scene. Hamas has refused to recognize the right of Israel to exist. Hamas refused to participate in the 1996 elections because it viewed the Palestinian Authority as illegitimate due to its negotiations with Israel; while it has not changed that stance, it fielded candidates in 2006. Going into the election it had considerable momentum due to unexpected electoral success in the municipal elections in 2005.
The prospect of a Palestinian Authority dominated by Hamas alarmed Western governments, which almost universally consider it to be a terrorist group, and which provide foreign aid that makes up almost half of the PNA's budget. It was fear of a Hamas victory that was largely credited with driving the reconciliation between the main Fatah list and the Al-Mustaqbal breakaway faction.
This list was headed by Mustafa Barghouti, a distant relative of Marwan Barghouti. Mustafa Barghouti came in second in the Palestinian presidential election, 2005. The main component of this list was the Palestinian National Initiative. The list promised to fight corruption and nepotism, to demand the dismantling of the Israeli West Bank barrier, which it terms the "apartheid wall", and to provide "a truly democratic and independent 'third way' for the large majority of silent and unrepresented Palestinian voters, who favour neither the autocracy and corruption of the governing Fatah party, nor the fundamentalism of Hamas."
Abu Ali Mustafa
This list was formed by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and is named after Abu Ali Mustafa, the General Secretary of the PFLP who was assassinated by Israeli forces in 2001. The PFLP is the second largest member of the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), after Fatah.
This list was headed by Finance Minister Dr Salam Fayyad and former PA Minister of Higher Education and Research Hanan Ashrawi. Their platform focused on reform of the security forces, democratic improvements and socioeconomic progress.
In the run up to the election a Fatah leader in Nablus accused the Third Way of receiving funds from the CIA.
This list was a coalition of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Palestinian People's Party, the Palestine Democratic Union (Fida), and various independents. The list was headed by Qais Abd al-Karim (Abou Leila) from the DFLP. The PPP candidate received 2.67% in the Palestinian presidential election, 2005. In the list vote, its best vote was 6.6% in Bethlehem, followed by 4.5% in Ramallah and al-Bireh and 4.0% in Nablus.
Also known as the National Coalition for Justice and Democracy, this list was headed by Gazan doctor Eyad El-Sarraj, who was a consultant to the Palestinian delegation to the Camp David 2000 Summit and heads a group of Palestinian and Israeli academics working towards a peace agreement. The list's main platform is security reforms, establishing the rule of law and respect for human rights.
The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research polled 1,316 adults in the West bank and Gaza strip in early December 2005 on their voting intentions for the legislative poll, which indicated the following support:
- Fatah: 50%
- Hamas: 32%
- Others: 9%
- Undecided: 9%
A second poll by PCPSR between 29 December - 31 December covered 4560 potential voters and gave the following results:
- Fatah: 43%
- Change and Reform (Hamas): 25%
- Independent Palestine: 5%
- Martyr Abu Ali Mustafa: 3%
- The Alternative: 2%
- The Third Way: 2%
- Undecided: 19%
No other lists were expected to exceed the 2% threshold.
A poll from Palestinian Public Opinion Polls, conducted 5 January and 6 January, covering 1360 persons, shows a further move away from Fatah:
- Fatah 39.3%
- Change and Reform (Hamas): 31.3%
- Independent Palestine: 10.4%
- Martyr Abu Ali Mustafa: 6.8%
- The Third Way: 5.5%
No other lists were expected to exceed the 2% threshold.
In the lead-up to the elections, Israel launched on 26 September 2005 a campaign of arrest against PLC members. 450 members of Hamas were detained, mostly involved in the 2006 PLC elections. The majority of them were kept in administrative detention for different periods. In the election period, 15 PLC members were captured and held as political prisoners.
During the elections, the Israeli authorities banned the candidates from holding election campaigns inside Jerusalem. Rallies and public meetings were prohibited. Also, the Jerusalem identity cards of some PLC members were revoced. The Carter Center, which monitored the elections, criticised the detentions of persons who "are guilty of nothing more than winning a parliamentary seat in an open and honest election".
Voting in East Jerusalem
On 21 December 2005, Israeli officials stated their intention to prevent voting in East Jerusalem, which, unlike most of the Palestinian-inhabited areas that are planned to participate in the election, is under Israeli civil and military control. (Israel annexed East Jerusalem in the wake of the Six-Day War; this move has not been recognized by most other governments, or by the PNA, which claims Jerusalem as a Palestinian capital.) Israel's stated motivation was not the argument about sovereignty over the area (Palestinian voters in East Jerusalem had been allowed to vote in previous PNA elections despite the dispute) but concern over Hamas' participation in—and potential victory in—the election. Muhammad Abu Tir, Mustafa Barghouti, and Hanan Ashrawi were all briefly detained by Israeli police when they attempted to campaign in East Jerusalem. In response, PNA officials stated that the election would not be held if East Jerusalem voters could not participate —though this move was seen more as a pretext to postpone elections that Fatah might lose to Hamas than a debate over principle.
After privately agreeing to use the issue as a pretext for delaying the elections again so as to avoid Hamas electoral gains, Israeli and Palestinian officials raised the issue with the United States. But President George W. Bush made clear the elections should go forward as scheduled.
On January 10, 2006, Israeli officials announced that a limited number of Palestinians in East Jerusalem would be able to cast votes at post offices, as they did in 1996. Palestinian candidates will also be allowed to campaign in East Jerusalem as long as they register with Israeli police—and, a police spokesman noted, "Anyone who is a supporter of Hamas will not receive permission."  Israeli police closed at least three Hamas election offices in East Jerusalem during the campaign.
On the day of the election, the ballot boxes were held in Israeli Post Offices inside Jerusalem. Israeli police officers were present to monitor the proceedings of the election. At the end of the day the Israeli authorities transferred the ballot boxes to the Palestinian Authority.
After polls closed, officials and observers called the vote "peaceful"; Edward McMillan-Scott, the British Conservative head of the European Parliament's monitoring team described the polls as "extremely professional, in line with international standards, free, transparent and without violence". His colleague, Italian Communist MEP Luisa Morgantini said there was "a very professional attitude, competence and respect for the rules."  All polling stations closed on time (7 p.m.) except for East Jerusalem, where voting was extended by the permitted two extra hours. Hamas protested this extension, claiming it only served Fatah; the Central Elections Committee stated that voting hours were "extended upon the approval of the Israeli authorities due to lengthy queues as a result of obstructions by post office workers." 
Exit polls indicated that Fatah emerged with more seats than Hamas, but not a majority of PLC seats. A poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research estimated that Fatah had won 42% of the national vote and Hamas 35%; the margin of error was 4%. Another exit poll, conducted by Birzeit University, largely viewed as the most authoritative estimation, had Fatah with 46.4% of the vote and Hamas with 39.5%; their tentative prediction of seat allocation had Fatah with 63 seats, four short of a majority; Hamas 58; the Martyr Abu Ali Mustafa list 3; The Third Way 2; Independent Palestine 2; The Alternative 2; and two independents.
Leaders from both Hamas and Fatah, however, announced on Thursday morning that Hamas was expected to win a majority. Ismail Haniya, who topped the Change and Reform list claimed "Hamas has won more than 70 seats in Gaza and the West Bank". Another Hamas leader, Musheer al-Masri claimed the party expected to win 77 seats. Aljazeera reported Fatah officials conceding defeat. Prime minister Ahmed Qurei resigned on Thursday morning, along with his cabinet, saying it now fell to Hamas to form a government. Hamas leader al-Masri called for a "political partnership" with Fatah, but prominent Fatah leader, Jibril Rajoub, rejected a coalition and called on Fatah to form a "responsible opposition".
The Central Elections Commission released the final results on Sunday, January 29, 2006, and announced that Hamas had won 74 of the 132 seats, while Fatah trailed with 45.
According to the results, Hamas won the large majority of the constituency seats but was more narrowly ahead on the lists. Fatah did beat Hamas in the constituencies in Qalqilya, Rafah, and Jericho. Jenin was split evenly, and Fatah won the seats reserved for Christians in Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Ramallah.
The Central Elections Commission said turnout was 74.6%–76.0% in the Gaza Strip and 73.1% in the West Bank.
|Party||Constituency seats||PR seats||Total
|Martyr Abu Ali Mustafa||42,101||4.25||3||140,074||2.96||0||3|
|Palestinian Popular Struggle Front||7,127||0.27||0||8,821||0.19||0||0|
|Palestinian Arab Front||4,398||0.44||0||3,446||0.07||0||0|
|Martyr Abu al-Abbas||3,011||0.30||0||–||–||–||0|
|National Coalition for Justice and Democracy||1,806||0.18||0||–||–||–||0|
|Palestinian Democratic Union||–||–||–||3,257||0.07||0||0|
|Source: Central Election Commission, IFES|
The Prime Minister, Ahmed Qurei, resigned, but at the request of President Mahmoud Abbas, remained as interim Prime Minister until 19 February 2006. On 29 March 2006 a new government was formed by Hamas leader Ismail Haniya.
Detention of Ministers and MPs
After the capture of Gilad Shalit on 25 June 2006, Israel launched a series of raids into Gaza and West Bank. Israel destroyed civilian infrastructure and arrested dozens of Hamas supporters, including elected cabinet ministers and members of the PLC. On 28 June overnight, the army invaded Gaza and performed airstrikes, bombing infrastructure such as bridges and an electricity station. On 29 June, the IDF detained from the West Bank 8 ministers and 26 PLC members in addition to many other political leaders. By August 2006, Israel had arrested 49 senior Hamas officials, all from the West Bank, including 33 parliamentarians, "because technically they were members of a terrorist organisation although they may not be involved in terrorist acts themselves". Almost 200 Gaza residents had been killed. Most of the detainees were strong moderated members within Hamas, urging leaders in Gaza to recognise Israel and ensure the party is acceptable to the international community. Hamas has accused Israel of trying to destroy the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority.
The 2006–2007 economic sanctions against the Palestinian National Authority were imposed by Israel and the Quartet on the Middle East against the Palestinian National Authority and the Palestinian territories.
Israel tightened the blockade of the Gaza Strip and withheld monthly some 50 million dollar of taxes belonging to the Palestinian Authority, aimed at isolating and destabilizing a Hamas government.
Israel and the Quartet have said that sanctions would be lifted only when the Palestinian government has met the following demands:
- Renunciation of violence,
- Recognition of Israel by the Hamas government (as had the PLO), and
- Acceptance of previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority.
The international sanctions on PA were terminated in June 2007, following the Battle of Gaza, in which Hamas took over Gaza, ousting its rival Fatah. At the same time a new and more severe blockade of Hamas Governaned Gaza Strip was initiated.
- Central Elections Commission (CEC)
- Israel Arrests Hamas Lawmakers CBS, 29 June 2006
- Chris McGreal, Hamas drops call for destruction of Israel from manifesto. The Guardian, 12 January 2006
- Funds Cut, Gaza Faces a Plague of Health Woes. New York Times, 8 May 2006
- U.S. and Israelis Are Said to Talk of Hamas Ouster. "recognize Israel's right to exist, forswear violence and accept previous Palestinian-Israeli agreements ... or face isolation and collapse." Verified Nov 14, 2007.
- Haniyeh wrote the letter on 6 June 2006. In 2006 letter to Bush, Haniyeh offered compromise with Israel. Haaretz, 14 November 2008
- "Israel kills key Palestinian leader". BBC News. August 27, 2001. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
- Marmari, Hanoch (June 6, 2002). "Digging beneath the surface in the Middle East conflict". Haaretz. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
- Peter Cave (August 28, 2001). "Israel assassinates Abu Ali Mustafa". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
- Frankel, Rafael D. "Fatah, Hamas might not win majority | Middle East". Fr.jpost.com. Retrieved 2011-05-23.
- Abu, Khaled. "Barghouti calls for Fatah-Hamas unity | Middle East". Fr.jpost.com. Retrieved 2011-05-23.
- "Survey Research Unit". Pcpsr.org. Retrieved 2011-05-23.
- "Survey Research Unit". Pcpsr.org. Retrieved 2011-05-23.
- "An-Najah National University" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-05-23.
- Palestinian Legislative Council Members. Addameer, 2013
- Legislative Council Members - Prisoners. Central Elections Commission
- Palestinian MK demands release of PLC members; reinstatement of Jerusalem ID. Ma'an News Agency, 12 September 2008
- Carter Center Urges Israel to Release Palestinian Legislators. The Carter Center, 24 January 2012
- "Palestinian Officials May Cancel Elections - U.S. & World". FOXNews.com. 2005-12-21. Retrieved 2011-05-23.
- Martin Indyk, Innocent Abroad (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009), pages 382-383.
- "Middle East | Israel to 'allow Jerusalem vote'". BBC News. 2006-01-10. Retrieved 2011-05-23.
- "News". AlertNet. 2011-05-10. Retrieved 2011-05-23.
- [dead link]
- Erlanger, Steven (2006-01-25). "A Narrow Win for Fatah Expected in Palestinian Elections - New York Times". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 2011-05-23.
- "Middle East | Palestinian PM to quit after poll". BBC News. 2006-01-26. Retrieved 2011-05-23.
- [dead link]
- Palestinian Central Election Commission website
- Israel seizes Hamas legislators. BBC, 29 June 2006
- 25% of Palestinian MPs detained by Israel. Conal Urquhart, Guardian, 21 August 2006
- Hamas Leader Faults Israeli Sanction Plan. Steven Erlanger, New York Times, 18 February 2006
- Funds Cut, Gaza Faces a Plague of Health Woes. Steven Erlanger, New York Times, 8 May 2006
- Palestine's Central Elections Commission website
- Map of election districts (from the NY Times)
- Electronic Intifada on the election, with constituency results
- National Democratic Institute / The Carter Center - election observation report
- Hamas wins Palestinian election, Wikinews