Fatah supporters celebrated on the streets of Ramallah overnight as results filtered in from the landmark Palestinian elections. Both Fatah – the dominant force in Palestinian politics for decades – and main rival Hamas are claiming victory after yesterday’s parliamentary elections, the first in a decade.
Exit polls all put Fatah ahead by a slim margin – but it’s still too close to call. What is clear is that neither party is likely to win a majority of seats in the new Palestinian parliament.
Both sides have said they would consider a coalition if there is no clear winner.
“This is the beginning of a new era, and I hope one in which we will start peace negotiations,”, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said.
That prospect now seems remote, with Hamas now on course to share power with Fatah. Israel has said it will not talk to Hamas unless it recognises the Jewish state, something the group has ruled out. The European Union and the United States also regard it as a terrorist organisation.
The so-called Quartet of the EU, Russia, the US and the UN meets on Monday in London to evaluate the results which are expected later today.