Despite previous internal Palestinian fighting, there are hopes for calm in Wednesday’s parliamentary election in the territories. Militant groups have jointly pledged to prevent the poll being disrupted.
Seven factions issued a joint statement saying they would send unarmed observers to assist Palestinian police guarding polling stations.
Hundreds of international monitors will also be surveying the vote – among them, former US president Jimmy Carter.
Israeli and Palestinian security forces have been on heightened alert. In an overnight raid in the West Bank, Israeli soldiers arrested several Palestinians who, they claimed, may have been planning a suicide attack. But the army leadership indicated a low-key approach will be adopted on the voting day.
On the eve of the election President Mahmoud Abbas appealed to Palestinians to vote en masse – calling it a national duty.
But his Fatah movement has seen its pre-eminent position undermined by Hamas to the extent they are likely to have share power with the militants. And that will have far-reaching implications for the region’s peace process.