Return to the Statistics (home) page Learn more about us. If Americans Knew: what every American needs to know about Israel/Palestine
Statistics History Current Situation US Interests Media Analysis About Us
Top Border

printer symbolPrint Article
letter symbolEmail this Page


The Palestinian Political Situation

Hamas Wins Huge Majority

Al Jazeera
January 26, 2006

Close up of Ismail Haniyeh
Ismail Haniyeh said the world need not fear Hamas.

The Islamic group Hamas has won a huge majority in parliamentary elections as Palestinian voters rejected the long-time rule of the Fatah Party.

Of the 132 seats in Parliament, Hamas won 76 and Fatah 43, the election commission announced on Thursday.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia and his Cabinet resigned, even before the official results were announced, and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas was to ask Hamas to form the next government.

The top Hamas leader, Khaled Mashaal, told Abbas his group is ready for a political partnership, Hamas said.

And in a first sign of pragmatism, Mahmoud Zahar, a top Hamas official, said the group would extend its year-old truce if Israel reciprocates. "If not, then I think we will have no option but to protect our people and our land," he said.

Loyal opposition

Fatah legislator Saeb Erekat said the party does not want to join a Hamas government. "We will be a loyal opposition and rebuild the party," Erekat said, after meeting Abbas.

But Nabil Shaath, another senior Fatah lawmaker, said the party's leadership would make a decision later on Thursday.

Mahmoud Abbas
Abbas will remain president.

Abbas was elected separately a year ago and remains president. However, the Palestinian leader has said he would resign if he could no longer pursue his peace agenda.

The Cabinet and legislature must approve any major initiative by Abbas, giving Hamas tremendous influence over peace moves.

Hamas supporters streamed into the streets to celebrate.

In the southern Gaza town of Rafah, supporters shot in the air and handed out candy. Others honked horns and waved Hamas flags from car windows.

Hamas capitalized on widespread discontent with years of Fatah corruption and ineffectiveness. Much of its campaign focused on internal Palestinian issues, while playing down the conflict with Israel.

Mixed signals

Before the election, Hamas had suggested it would be content as a junior partner in the next government, thus avoiding a decision on its relationship with Israel.

What's next:

* Final results results are to be certified within twoweeks. During that time, participants may challenge results.

* After final results are in, Mahmoud Abbas, the presidentof the Palestinian Authority, begins consultations withfactions that are to enter the next parliament, then willtap a party to put together a government. That party willhave three weeks to put together a government, and can ask for a two-week extension.

* The new Palestinian parliament is to be sworn in for a four-year term in March.

* Abbas, elected last year to a four-year term, can remainin office. He has said he would step down if he cannot pushforward efforts to seek a peace deal with Israel.Throughout the campaign, leaders sent mixed signals, hinting they could be open to some sort of accommodation with Israel. Its apparent victory will now force it to take a clearer position on key issues.

Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas candidate who won election in the northern Gaza Strip, said peace talks and recognition of Israel are "not on our agenda" but the group is ready for a partnership - presumably with Abbas.

Some Hamas officials tried to reassure the world of its intentions.

"Don't be afraid," Ismail Haniyeh, a Hamas leader, told the BBC. "Hamas is a Palestinian movement, it is an aware and mature movement, one which is politically open in the Palestinian arena, and to its Arab and Islamic hinterland, and similarly open to the international arena."

This was the first time Hamas has contested a parliamentary vote.

Half the seats in Wednesday's parliament vote were chosen on a national list and the other half by districts.


Hamas apparently took advantage of divisions in Fatah; the long-ruling party fielded multiple candidates in many districts, splitting the Fatah vote.

"Hamas is a Palestinian movement, it is an aware and mature movement, one which is politically open in the Palestinian arena, and to its Arab and Islamic hinterland, and similarly open to the international arena"

Ismail Haniyeh,
Hamas leader

Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi, who apparently was re-elected on a moderate platform, said the Hamas victory was a dramatic turning point. She said she is concerned the fighters will now impose their fundamentalist social agenda and lead the Palestinians into international isolation.

She said Fatah's corruption, Israel's tough measures and international indifference to the plight of the Palestinians were to blame for Hamas's strong showing.

Turnout for Wednesday's vote was heavy, with nearly 78% of 1.3 million eligible voters casting ballots. The polling stations were heavily guarded, and there were no reports of major violence. -AP

Back to topBack to Top

printer symbolPrint Article

letter symbolEmail This Page


Watch Interview with Amal Jadou in RealPlayer | Download for Windows Media Player

Related Articles

Divide and Rule, Israeli-Style

Gaza in the grip of Hamas

Saving President Abbas

Whose Coup, Exactly?

Towards a Geography of Peace: Whither Gaza

More Articles on Palestinian Politics

Additional Resources

Website – Dr. Mustapha Barghouthi’s Campaign

Mahmoud Abbas’ biography on PA Website


Palestinian Liberation Organization

The Palestinian Initiative

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine

Stay Informed

Sign up for our mailing list and receive an email whenever we post a new article on our news site, Israel-Palestine News.

If Americans Knew distributes and posts to our website copyrighted material, sometimes without the permission of the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of the Israel/Palestine conflict. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law since it is being distributed without profit for purely educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

This website is printer-friendly. Please Print this article and share it with your friends and family.