Fatah supporters have been celebrating as results filter in from the Palestinian elections.
But the cheering may be premature. Initial exit polls suggest the outcome is too close to call, with Fatah – the dominant force in Palestinian politics for decades – set to win just a few more seats in parliament than its main rival Hamas. Without explicitly claiming a win, President Mahmoud Abbas said: “this is the beginning of a new era, and I hope one in which we will start peace negotiations.” But that prospect seems more remote than ever, with Hamas now on course to share power with Fatah. Israel has made it clear 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. These are the first elections in the occupied territories in ten years – they have been repeatedly postponed because of security problems and political turmoil.