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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06JERUSALEM286
2006-01-23 15:55:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Consulate Jerusalem
Cable title:  

PALESTINIAN LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL ELECTIONS SITREP

Tags:   PREL  PGOV  KWBG  PBTS  IS  KPAL  KDEM 
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VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHJM #0286/01 0231555
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 231555Z JAN 06
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9842
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC PRIORITY
						C O N F I D E N T I A L JERUSALEM 000286 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

NEA FOR FRONT OFFICE, NSC FOR ABRAMS/DORAN/MUSTAFA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/23/2016
TAGS: PREL PGOV KWBG PBTS IS KPAL KDEM
SUBJECT: PALESTINIAN LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL ELECTIONS SITREP
#10: JANUARY 23, 2006: FEW REPORTED PROBLEMS WITH PA
SECURITY FORCES VOTING

Classified By: Consul General Jake Walles, per reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (C) Summary. Voting by Palestinian Authority (PA)
security forces continued for a third and final day, January
23, with turnout reported around 82 percent of registered
voters at the conclusion of the second day of voting. ConGen
contacts expect final turnout over 90 percent of registered
security forces personnel. While Palestinian contacts
reported some problems, including a Palestinian who on
January 22 attempted to enter a polling station in Rafah with
hand grenades and several Hamas complaints about voting
irregularities, the process has proceeded without serious
disruption. PLO Chief Negotiator Sa'eb Erekat reported to
the Consul General that Election Day modalities for the West
Bank and Gaza Strip have been finalized with Israel. Both
Erekat and PLC candidate Muhammad Dahlan expected a tight
finish between Fatah and Hamas. "Third Way" candidate Salam
Fayyad expects a positive showing for his national slate.
End summary.

Few Reported Problems With
PA Security Forces Voting


--------------------------





2. (C) PA Security Forces (PASF) voting, which commenced
January 21, has proceeded with few serious incidents of
disruption. By midday January 21, the CEC reported turnout
at approximately 22 percent. By midday of January 22, the
CEC reported that approximately 30,000 PASF personnel (about
50 percent) had cast ballots. By the end of the second day
of voting on January 22, turnout was reported at
approximately 82 percent of all registered PASF personnel,
with a final day of balloting scheduled on January 23.
(Note: The NSF commander in Ramallah January 21 filed a
request with the CEC that 335 officers serving in the West
Bank, but registered in Gaza, be allowed to vote in the West
Bank. The CEC has yet to respond positively to this request.
End note.) The PASF had reportedly secured all polling
stations, with no few serious problems. (Note: PA police
confirmed January 22 that security personnel arrested a
Palestinian who attempted to enter a polling station in Rafah
while holding hand grenades. End note.)



3. (C) There were some reports of voting irregularities,
including PASF personnel claiming illiteracy to polling
station workers and requesting assistance from a third party,
typically another member of the PASF. Hamas on January 22
filed complaints with the CEC requesting that voter
registration lists be posted at entrances to polling
stations, which the PASF opposed. As a compromise, the CEC
decided to allow representatives of each of the factions an
opportunity to view the lists at the polling stations. Hamas
also lodged a complaint that PASF were instructed and

intimated to vote for Fatah candidates.

Erekat: Modalities For
Elections Completed


--------------------------





4. (C) PLO Chief Negotiator and PLC candidate Sa'eb Erekat
January 21 told the Consul General that voting for the PASF
was proceeding smoothly. Erekat reported that he and the CEC
held a good meeting with Israeli General Mishlev on January
20 where they concluded all details regarding election
modalities for the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The IDF agreed
to facilitate the movement of ballot material and election
workers and would ease up on "flying" checkpoints. Israeli
police in Jerusalem January 22 arrested a Hamas district
candidate, a PFLP candidate running on its national list, and
seven other activists who were caught putting up campaign
paraphernalia. On the elections, Erekat expected a close
race to the finish between Fatah and Hamas. (Comment: This
assessment is notable, as Erekat has previously predicted a
solid Fatah victory in the elections. End comment.)

Fayyad: Reasonable
Showing For "Third Way"


--------------------------





5. (C) "Third Way" candidate Salam Fayyad confirmed to the
Consul General January 21 that his campaign manager in Gaza,
Ghazi Shabiyya, was shot in the stomach after reportedly
being lured to a scheduled meeting. According to Palestinian
contacts, Shabiyya's injuries were not critical. Fayyad said
that he wasn't certain if the shooting represented an
isolated incident or was an indication of something more
serious related to his campaign. Fayyad confirmed, however,
that there was significant intimidation of "Third Way"


activists in the Northern West Bank. On the campaign itself,
Fayyad said that the underlying trend for the "Third Way" was
positive, and he expected a "reasonable" showing. (Note: A
new poll from Khalil Shikaki reported "Third Way" polling at
three percent, behind Mustafa Barghouthi's "Independent
Palestine" (five percent), Hamas (35 percent), and Fatah (42
percent). End note.)

Dahlan More Confident About
Fatah Prospects in Gaza


--------------------------





6. (C) During a January 22 telecon with the Consul
General, Gaza PLC candidate Muhammad Dahlan said that he was
more optimistic about Fatah's chances in Rafah and Khan
Yunis. He reported that he has concentrated his efforts in
those two districts, adding that he has conducted
approximately 10 rallies per day, with turnout anywhere
between 1,000 to 20,000 people at each event. Dahlan said
that he was also optimistic that Fatah would win one to two
seats in the North Gaza (Jabaliyah) district. Efforts were
still ongoing to get independent Fatah-affiliated candidates
to withdraw from the district races. (Note: In response to
interventions from senior Fatah officials, several
independent Fatah candidates dropped out of the district
races over the weekend, including PLC members Muhammad
Hourani (Hebron) and Ahmad al-Batsh (Jerusalem).
Approximately 40 of the 142 Fatah independents have
officially withdrawn. End note.)

Summary of Local
Press Coverage


--------------------------





7. (SBU) The main story January 23 in the main three
Palestinian dailies focused on statements from jailed West
Bank Fatah leader and PLC candidate Marwan Barghuti, who
called for "intensive participation" in the PLC elections.
In an interview with al-Jazeera, Barghuti's first since being
imprisoned, he asserted that Fatah was still able to lead the
Palestinian people to freedom and independence.

-- The dailies also featured statements from PA President
Mahmud Abbas, who urged all Palestinians to exercise their
right to vote and reiterated that the PASF would cooperate
fully with the CEC to prevent elections violations.

-- Al-Quds carried the results of a public opinion poll
conducted by the Palestinian Center for Political and Survey
Research which predicted that 42 percent would vote for
Fatah, while approximately 35 percent would vote for the
Hamas slate, "Reform and Change".

-- Al-Ayyam on January 21 led with a report Gaza Hamas leader
and PLC candidate Mahmud Zahar said that Hamas will seek,
after winning the legislative elections, to re-formulate
Palestinian society in all areas in accordance with Islam and
that it will move the government away from corruption, chaos,
bribery, and patronage.

Op-eds:

-- Ashraf Ajrami wrote in Al-Ayyam that as Palestinians
prepare to vote, they must consider the choices they are
making so that they don't fall in a dangerous situation.
Talal Okal wrote in Al-Ayyam that on the eve of elections,
everyone is keeping an eye on whether and how Hamas will
participate in the political process.

-- Salah Sobani wrote in al-Quds that Hamas' main support
stems from an increasingly religious public and the lack of
any positive political horizon, including an end to the
occupation.

-- Ali A'war opined in al-Quds that since Hamas is now a
major player in the Palestinian national movement, it is
obliged to present a clear political program to meet the
aspiration of the Palestinian people.

WALLES