Hamas, the militant Islamic movement, appeared to be headed for fresh gains yesterday as the latest round of Palestinian local elections provided a dress rehearsal for a parliamentary poll this summer that is expected to undermine the dominance of the ruling &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/hotspots/2002/06/13/30299.html ' target=_blank>Fatah party.
Palestinians voted in 84 constituencies across the West Bank and Gaza Strip after an earlier round of municipal elections in January saw the Islamists gain control of a majority of the municipal councils they contested.
Political analysts put Hamas's gains down to a widespread protest vote against Fatah, a party identified with corruption and inefficiency in the Palestinian Authority during the lifetime of its former leader, the late Yassir Arafat.
In February Hamas signed up to a ceasefire with Israel, brokered by &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/mailbox/22/101/399/14946_.html ' target=_blank>Mahmoud Abbas, Mr Arafat's successor as PA president. It will be standing in national elections for the first time when Palestinians vote for a new parliament on July 17.
Nowhere did Hamas face a steeper uphill struggle yesterday than in Beit Jala, part of the so-called Christian triangle south of Jerusalem. The Islamists fielded three candidates in the predominantly Greek Orthodox town on a euphemistically named Reconciliation Movement list, reports FT News.
Russia may terminate all kinds of military and military-technical relations with Israel, including the agreement on the exchange of reconnaissance data
The Ilyushin 20 (Il-20) military electronic reconnaissance aircraft of the Russian Air Force with 14 servicemen on board that went off radar screens off the coast of Syria was shot down by Syrian air defense systems over the Mediterranean Sea