Palestinians hold polls in West Bank for first time

Palestinians voted for mayors and local councils in 93 communities across the West Bank on Saturday, their first chance to cast ballots in six years.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party hope the election will revive flagging popular support in an ostensibly fail-proof environment, with Fatah rival Hamas boycotting the West Bank vote. Hamas also blocked elections in Gaza, the territory it seized from Abbas in 2007.

Abbas’ party could still walk away bruised, however, if turnout is particularly low or if Fatah renegades competing in several of the larger communities defeat candidates formally endorsed by the movement.

Palestinians have no interest in peace with Israel, says Mitt Romney The election is also overshadowed by widespread voter apathy and a general sense of malaise.

Abbas’ Palestinian Authority, a self-rule government in parts of the Israeli-controlled West Bank, is mired in a chronic cash crisis. Efforts to heal the Palestinian political split have failed. And prospects are virtually nil for resuming meaningful negotiations with Israel's hardline government on setting up a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, the territories Israel captured in 1967.

Loss of hope may keep many from the polls, along with an appeal by Hamas to its supporters to stay home.

“I’m not going to vote for anyone,” said Mahmoud Imran, a 22-year-old law student in the West Bank town of Ramallah. “I no longer believe those politicians. I no longer believe they will bring a state or anything else.”

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