Palestinians voted on Thursday in the first municipal elections in the West Bank for nearly three decades, a dry run for a presidential ballot next month to choose a successor to Yasser Arafat.And there goes another nail into the coffin of the "Arabs aren't capable of democracy" argument. It is odd to hear many leftist espouse this argument. Especially as they rant about the US Government taking away their rights. I'm always tempted to say, "Well maybe democracy isn't the best system of government for us either." I think that would send most of them over the edge, however.
The elections, which drew a heavy turnout, were expected to be a test of strength between the dominant Fatah movement and Islamists sworn to destroying Israel.
Voting ended at 7 p.m. and results were expected to be released on Saturday.
"This is democracy and freedom, and God willing we will choose the right people who will serve our needs," said Rahma Hamed, a school principal who voted in the village of Silwad, some 12 miles north of Jerusalem.
In the West Bank, roughly 1,000 candidates were competing for about 300 seats on 26 local councils, mostly in villages, during the first phase of the elections. A similar vote in Gaza was delayed because violence prevented registration.
In the West Bank, long lines formed in front of polling stations in mild weather for what was also the first Palestinian ballot since Arafat was elected president in 1996.
Of course, what would a day when Palestinians make progress be without a Palestinian leader putting his foot in his mouth.
Abbas has welcomed a proposal by British leader Tony Blair to host a London conference in March on Palestinian reform.I'm sure that comment will go over real well in Israel while they are burying the dead from the last terrorist attack.
But Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie said that what was really needed was a peace conference.
"It is the Israeli side that requires rehabilitation for peace, not us," Qurie told reporters.