The Fatah faction has won the student elections at Nablus’s A-Najah University, defeating Hamas for the first time since 1996.
According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, Fatah, which is the movement founded by the late Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat, won 38 seats on the 81-seat council, up from 28 seats in the 2001 election. Supporters of the Hamas terror movement won 36 seats, down from 46 in 2001.
Other seats were shared by Islamic Jihad and several other smaller parties. A-Najah is the largest university in the West Bank.
Unlike their Israeli counterparts, Palestinian students are very involved in politics and the student elections are an indication of wider public political tendencies. Palestinian universities are known for the hawkish approach of their students who often demonstrate support for terror movements.
Analysts say Fatah’s victory may be a demonstration of sympathy following Arafat’s death and their satisfaction with the smooth transition of power to the new head of the Palestine Liberation Organization Mahmoud ‘Abbas, as well as Hamas’s decline in popular standing since two of its leaders were assassinated earlier this year.
According to the Intelligence Terrorism and Information Center, A-Najah University is a stronghold for various terror organizations which work through the student organizations. The Israeli army has confiscated propaganda kits put together by terror organizations and intended for A-Najah students, they reported, and several A-Najah students have been involved in terror attacks against Israelis, including suicide bombings.