Palestinians held municipal elections on Saturday (May 13) in the occupied West Bank, a first democratic exercise in years, but one that has also raised tensions between the rival Fatah and Hamas movements.
With no legislative or presidential elections in sight, the municipal ballot is seen as a popularity test for Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party, caught in a deep rift with Hamas.
Underlining the political schism, about 800,000 Palestinians were expected to vote for representatives in 145 local councils in the occupied West Bank, but not in the Gaza Strip.
Months of political and legal wrangling preceded Saturday's elections. Abbas's Palestinian Authority, which governs in the West Bank, and Hamas, which runs Gaza, blamed each other for the vote not being held in the small coastal enclave.
A Fatah candidate said the elections are to tell the world that there is democracy in Palestine.
Hamas said the Palestinian Authority had made a unilateral decision to go ahead with the vote before an agreement on a legal framework had been reached.