Translated by Saed Bannoura, IMEMC
In spite of the fatigue which wore out the supervisors of the voting process and the vote counting, some of the ballots found in the voting boxes brought a smile to their faces.
In Balata refugee camp, east of Nablus, a voter decided not to vote for any of the listed candidates and preferred to write the word Ã¢â‚¬Å“I love youÃ¢â‚¬Â instead, apparently either unable to decide, or mistrusting any of the candidates, or mistrusting the outcome of the whole process on the ground and its effects on the general situation in the exhausted Palestinian areas as a result of daily invasions, arrests and killing carried out by the Israeli army.
Wael Hashash, one of the supervisors of a voting center in Balata refugee camp, said that the committee found a paper which had the (X) sign beside the names of all of the candidates, which eventually disqualified it.
In the old city of Nablus, the committee found a name written which wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t the name of any of the candidates, nor was it the name of any living person; it was the name of Nayef Abu Sharkh, a Palestinian resistance fighter killed by the Israeli army.
Several other ballots included names of assassinated activists.
In another surprise, which some people might consider a sort of Ã¢â‚¬Å“cheatingÃ¢â‚¬Â, a voting center in Beit Wazan, in the northern part of the West Bank, recorded 100% votes for Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), without a single vote for any of the other candidates.
Yet, the real issue and main question which remains for many voters is, Ã¢â‚¬Å“What will happen next?Ã¢â‚¬Â The Israeli army is still here, the new leader of the Palestinian authority will have to face what Arafat faced, and maybe worse.
The challenges are still here, Palestinians are still imprisoned in their cities, villages and refugee camps, refugee are still displaced and remain one of the most challenging issues in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Palestinians went to vote hoping for a better future, a future where a parent knows that when their children leave to go to school, they will return home without being killed, fired at or detained by Israeli soldiers stationed at every corner.
The future which every Palestinian is trying to achieve is a future of independence, freedom, security, the return of their lost rights and the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes.