After the first phase of the polls that took place on Dec. 11 last year, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank on Saturday began casting their votes in the second and final phase of local elections.
The Central Elections Commission stated last month that 259 electoral lists will compete for 73 local (municipal) bodies in the West Bank in the second round.
A total of 2,531 candidates, including 676 women, are vying for seats in the polls, according to the commission.
The importance of the second phase of the elections stems from the fact that it includes major cities: Ramallah, Al-Bireh, Hebron, Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarm, Qalqilya, Jericho, Bethlehem, Tubas and Salfit.
Hamas, which boycotted the first phase of the elections, is not taking part in today’s polls.
The movement, which rules the Gaza Strip, has accused the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority of “disrupting” the undertaking of a comprehensive elections process.
A political and geographical division has prevailed in the Palestinian territories since 2007 when Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip.
Fatah movement, which dominates the Palestinian Authority, has since ruled the West Bank, while Hamas took control of Gaza. Many efforts have failed to end the rift between the two rival movements.