For the second year in a row, Hamas on Wednesday won in the elections for the Bir Zeit University student council.
The Hamas-affiliated Islamic Bloc won 25 of the council’s 51 seats, as opposed to 20 for the ruling Fatah faction, The Martyr Yasser Arafat Bloc. Student lists affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and other factions won 6 seats.
Voter turnout was 77% of the 12,163 registered voters on campus. The Islamic Bloc received 4,481 votes, while The Martyr Yasser Arafat Bloc got 3,539 votes.
It was the second victory for Hamas in university elections in the West Bank.
University elections are a barometer for the Palestinian public
Last week, the Hamas-affiliated Islamic Bloc won in the elections for the student council at An-Najah University in Nablus, the largest Palestinian university in the West Bank.
The Islamic Bloc won 40 of the council’s 81 seats, just beating the Fatah-affiliated list, The Martyrs’ Bloc, which came in second with Fatah 38 seats.
The university elections are seen by some Palestinians as a barometer for public opinion in the West Bank, especially on university campuses. The results are seen as a blow to Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, both of which are headed by Mahmoud Abbas.
Last year, the Islamic Bloc won a landslide victory in the student council of Bir Zeit University, taking 28 seats while the Fatah list won only 18 seats.
Following the announcement of the results of the election at Bir Zeit University on Wednesday, the Islamic Bloc published a statement in which it said that its victory was proof that the students support “the option of resistance” against Israel and oppose the policies of the PA, including security coordination between the Palestinian security forces and the IDF in the West Bank, as well as schemes to “liquidate” the Palestinian issue.
Hamas’s parliamentary list, the Change and Reform Bloc, said Wednesday’s results are an indication of the growing presence of Hamas and the “resistance movement in Palestinian universities in the West Bank.”