Workers and youth vote for left parties in West Bank elections


PALESTINIAN voters in the West Bank have delivered a blow to the Fatah movement in local elections which saw Fatah winning two-fifths of the seats contested, while Hamas did not stand.

Lists led by Fatah rebels won control of four of the 11 major towns. In a fifth, independents and left movements won the day.

Hamas said political reconciliation needed to be achieved before any elections could be held, and no voting took place in the Gaza Strip, which the Hamas movement has governed since 2007.

Preliminary results released by the Central Elections Commission showed Fatah’s Independence and Development list, backed by President Mahmoud Abbas, winning 440 of the 1,051 seats contested.

In Ramallah, the seat of government for the Palestinian Authority, and Jenin independent lists headed by Fatah rebels beat the Fatah list.

It was a similar picture in Nablus where the list headed by Ghassan Shakaa, a former Fatah and Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) leader, beat that of Amin Maqbul, the official Fatah candidate.

Shakaa, a former mayor of the city who quit Fatah because of disagreements over the selection of candidates, said the election results showed the party is out of touch with ordinary Palestinians.

In Bethlehem, where leftists and independents won nine seats and Fatah eight, a woman, Vera Baboun, is poised to become mayor.

Maysoun Qawasmi, who led an all-women list in Hebron, won 493 votes, which was not enough to secure a seat on the city’s council.

Before, during and after the election workers took strike action because of the massive price increases that have been taking place and the fact that their full wages have not been paid, while all workers and youth have rejected the Palestine Authority’s minimum wage as being completely inadequate in the face of such savagely rising prices.

The public workers union continued its strike action this week after the head of the union, Bassam Zakarneh, said it would go ahead as planned, as the PA has still not responded to employee demands and has not started any dialogue with the unions.

Zakarneh said earlier this week he is willing to hold serious dialogue with the government to set a date for the payment of salaries, but the union rejects the payment of partial salaries. It wants a response to 28 demands it submitted two weeks ago and information about a ‘joint strategy’.

The Palestinian Authority has endorsed a national minimum wage, setting it at 1,450 shekels ($375) per month.

The response of workers was to demonstrate shouting ‘High prices and low wages is the government’s policy.’ Shaher Saad, head of the General Federation of Trade Unions, urged the government not to approve the proposed wage, which he said violated international norms.

Saad said his union is in talks with the public transport union among others to hold an open strike if the government ignores workers’ demands.

The Palestinian revolution is now on the march once again with workers, the unemployed and the youth denouncing the economic stranglehold that the Oslo Agreements handed to Israel, and which it is using to crush the Palestinian masses on a daily basis.

The two-state solution is now completely rejected by Palestinians since it has only brought decades of domination by the Zionsts and oppression for the Palestinians.

Now is the time to build a section of the Fourth International in Palestine to unite the Palestinian masses with anti-Zionist Jewish workers for a revolution to establish a Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital, where Arabs and Jews can live side by side, and to which all refugees will have the right to return.