Palestinian student vote gives Hamas slight edge

Student elections Wednesday at a leading West Bank university, seen as an indicator of the Palestinian mood, gave the Hamas only a slight edge over the Fatah Party. The results in the elections for the 51-seat student council at Bir Zeit University, near Ramallah, gave Hamas 22 seats, representing a slight loss in popularity from last year, when it captured 23 seats. Fatah won 21, up from 18 last year, showing a resurgence for the party of President Mahmoud Abbas. Two seats went to the radical Islamic Jihad, and six went to a progressive student's party. Palestinian society and government have been largely paralyzed by friction between Fatah and Hamas since Hamas won a national election a year ago. Those tensions have repeatedly exploded into violence, killing more than 140 Palestinians since May, 2006, but subsiding somewhat when the two groups agreed on a power-sharing deal in early March.