I wrote a few days ago of the difference between the elections in Iraq and the Palestinian Authority–the former seemed like a real one and the latter an anoinment. It now looks as if the Palestinian people agree. According to Haaretz and Debka, they are not turning out to vote, even though vans with loudspeakers are driving through the streets of Gaza urging them to. Debka writes that the polling day is being extended. Haaretz says Abbas’ team is worried about the low turnout. But… mirabile dictu… Jimmy Carter says everything is going well. For once, he’s not blaming the Israelis. From Haaretz:
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, one of 800 international monitors of the first Palestinian chairmanship election since 1996, said it appeared Israel was keeping to its promise to ease the passage of Palestinians at military checkpoints.
“There is no [Israeli] intimidation I have seen,” Carter told reporters after visiting checkpoints near Jerusalem.
UPDATE: The election is over with Abbas the winner with an estimated 66-70 percent of the vote, according to Haaretz. Mustafa Barghouti was second at around 20-24 percent, depending on exit polls. 65% of eligible voters turned out.
Debka sees it differently.
DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources report real exit figures estimated in Washington and Jerusalem as 49-52% win for Abbas, 30-32% for runner-up Barghouti and no more than 45-48% turnout rather than 65%, largest proportion of which cast in two hours added to end of balloting to pump up figures. Barghouti claims to emerge as head of second largest Palestinian faction after Fatah and before Hamas.
Orderly vote count broke down, some ballot boxes never counted or reached Ramallah central election center. Final results will be announced Monday.
Anyway, that makes little difference. What is important is what Abbas will actually do, having just informed his supporters “We offer this victory to the soul of the brother martyr Yasser Arafat and to all Palestinians.” Donations from Europe are now open.