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Last Updated: Monday, 16 January 2006, 11:14 GMT
Who's who in the Palestinian elections
BBC News looks at the parties and lists who will contest the Palestinian legislative elections to be held on 25 January


Fatah has been the dominant force in Palestinian politics and de facto ruling party for many decades. It currently holds 49 of the 88 seats in the Palestinian parliament, or Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), with another 15 independent deputies affiliated to Fatah.

Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian leader and co-founder of Fatah
Mahmoud Abbas was a close ally of Yasser Arafat
Drawing heavily on the legacy of its founder and late leader Yasser Arafat, Fatah is expected to come out on top in the elections. Two polls in early January gave Fatah around 40% of the vote.

But the party has been dogged by claims of nepotism and corruption, and is also accused of letting the security situation in Gaza get out of hand following the Israeli withdrawal in 2005.

The Fatah-dominated PA, including its chief negotiator and Fatah election candidate Saeb Erekat, have negotiated for an end to the Israeli occupation and Jewish settlements, and what it calls the "apartheid" West Bank barrier.

However, voters will recognise that under Mahmoud Abbas, a founding member of Fatah, the PA has found itself sidelined in the peace process by Israel's unilateral moves, in particular the withdrawal from Gaza.

Fatah suffered a split in December. A group of younger members, lead by Marwan Barghouti (who is serving five life terms in an Israeli prison over militant attacks), submitted its own list of candidates, including some top officials, under the name "Future". The two reunited at the end of December, however, fearing that a divided Fatah may not be able to fight off the challenge from Hamas.


The Hamas faction, running as the "Change and Reform List", is participating in its first legislative elections. Appealing strongly to voters who think it is time for change in the Palestinian leadership, Hamas has highlighted its determination to stamp out "rampant" corruption in Palestinian politics.

Hamas supporters at a rally
Hamas are contesting their first national elections
Like Fatah with Arafat, Hamas draws great inspiration from its former leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, assassinated by Israel in March 2004.

Hamas' central principles remain unchanged for this election. The party combines a hard-line stance towards Israel - including advocating armed attacks and refusing negotiations - with an established social welfare programme, and strict Islamic principles.

Senior Hamas official Ismail Haniya, launching the Hamas campaign from outside Sheikh Yassin's home earlier this month, stressed that as an Islamic movement Hamas was committed to implementing Sharia law.

Hamas is fielding 62 candidates in the elections, the largest number for any party.


This 41-candidate list is headed by former presidential candidate Mustafa Barghouti. Aiming to present a broad front, Mr Barghouti says his list represents a "third path", independent of the power struggle between Fatah and Hamas.

Mustafa Barghouti
Barghouti finished second in the presidential elections
The list, which includes members of various human rights organisations, argues that internal problems such as corruption and bad administration must be resolved in order to effectively tackle Israeli occupation in the West Bank.

Mr Barghouti himself was at the centre of a controversy over voting in East Jerusalem, when he was arrested while campaigning in the Arab Quarter of the city.

Two polls published last month gave the Independent Palestinian List nearly 10% of the popular vote.


The Alternative List is formed by a coalition of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), the Palestinian People's Party, and the Palestinian Democratic Union Party, as well as some independent candidates.

DFLP supporters
The DFLP was founded in 1969
It calls for an immediate entry into permanent-status negotiations with Israel, but insists on Palestinian refugees' right to return to their homes and properties in Israel.

The list's manifesto focuses on deprived and marginalised segments of society, and puts tackling unemployment and poverty at the top of its agenda. It also calls for full equality for women and abolishing any legislation that contradicts the principle of equality.

According to a poll by the Palestinian Centre for Public Opinion, the list will fight for third place with the Independent Palestinian List.


The leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Ahmad Saadat, announced his faction's participation in the elections from his Jericho prison cell.

Mustafa Abu Ali
Mustafa Abu Ali refused to negotiate with Israel
After attempts to form a unified list among democratic and leftist forces failed, the PFLP decided to run independently with its own list, named after its former leader Mustafa Abu Ali who was killed by Israeli forces in August 2001.

Mr Saadat is known to advocate Israel's destruction. His party backs the establishment of democracy in the PA, and argues that economic and social rights should be integral to human rights.


Other lists which are not expected to make a large impact on the polls include: the Freedom and Social Justice List; the Martyr Abu al-Abbas List; the Third Way List; the National Coalition for Justice and Democracy List; the Freedom and Independence List; and the Palestinian Justice List.


Militant group Islamic Jihad has said it will not take part in this month's polls.

According to London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat, 19 Fatah candidates standing in Jerusalem reportedly withdrew their candidacy in protest at voting conditions in their constituencies.

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