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feelin' fine in palestine

Palestinians vote in municipal elections as support for Abbas slips

Palestinians voted Saturday in municipal elections in the West Bank against the backdrop of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' dwindling popularity, Reuters reports.

No elections were held for Palestine's legislature or presidency, and the last legislative elections were held in 2006. Abbas, now 86, was elected to a four-year term in 2005 and has not faced voters since.

Over 400,000 Palestinians in 154 villages were eligible to cast votes, but municipal elections were canceled in major West Bank cities.

Hamas, which is feuding with Abbas' Fatah party, boycotted elections in Gaza. Hamas has seen a surge in popularity after fighting a brief war with Israel in May, and polling suggests that the Islamist faction is now more popular than Fatah.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Israel is only one of the issues on the minds of Palestinian voters. Many Palestinians are critical of Fatah for what they regard as its too-friendly relationship with the Jewish state, but they are also exasperated with the Fatah government's corruption and the inefficient public services it provides. "We need someone to handle the roads, trash and support town planning," 49-year-old Khader Khalifeh from the West Bank told the Journal.

Hamas mayors and city councilmen, many voters hope, will not only do a better job of fighting Israel, but also of keeping the streets clean and orderly.