Initial results of local elections in the West Bank cities of Nablus, Jenin, and Al Biereh near Ramallah, showed a victory for Hamas over the Fateh ruling party.
Although the final result wills be published on Sunday, early results showed Hamas gaining 65% of Nablus municipality seats, compared to 15% for Fateh.
Also, the early result showed Hamas gaining over a 50% of the vote, and is leading Fateh in Al Biereh by a large margin.
In Ramallah, a joint list of Fateh and several leftist parties appear to be in the lead.
Local elections were also held in 40 smaller towns in the West Bank, results are not made public yet.
Officials in Fateh attribute the poor showing of their movement to its recent split; the split was clear when the movement submitted two competing lists for the Legislative Elections to the Central Elections Committee on Wednesday.
The Legislative elections are scheduled to take place on January, 25, 2006.
On Thursday, the Central Elections Committee discovered that the name of the jailed legislator, Marwan Barghouthi, was listed as the first candidate on both Fateh lists; the main one which was submitted by the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, and the second one submitted the breakaway, headed by Barghouthi.
Both lists were submitted under the name of Fateh.
Barghouthi is imprisoned in Israel after being sentenced by an Israeli court to five life sentences. Some of his associates visited him on Thursday, and released a statement under his name, saying the Fateh will remain united despite of its multiplicity of lists.
There are ten other parties who have filed slates for the legislative elections; the parties include Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Palestinian National Initiative headed by Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi who ran against Abbas in the presidential elections, one headed by Salaam Fayyad the former Finance Minister, and a joint list of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Palestinian People Party.
In a related development, Palestinian Prime Minister, Ahmad Qureia resigned from his post of Thursday to run for reelection for the Legislative Council. Nabil Sha’ath will fill his position.
Qureia submitted his letter of resignation to the Palestinian President on Thursday afternoon; Abbas accepted the resignation and appointed Sha’ath as the interim prime minister.