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1.01.2006
  Palestinian Authority Admits: We're Not In Control
"The situation in the Palestinian territories is very dangerous because we are no longer in control," a senior PA official here admitted.

He said the latest cycle of internal violence, including the kidnapping of foreigners, attacks on public buildings and installations, and gun battles between rival gangs and clans, raise serious doubts as to whether next month's parliamentary elections could be held on time.

Some Palestinians compared the situation to what's happening in Somalia, which is divided by fiefdoms run by clan leaders and warlords.

Gunmen belonging to the ruling Fatah Party over the weekend issued several warnings to international monitors against arriving in the Palestinian territories to observe the elections.

On Saturday, a group of gunmen stormed a hotel in Nablus and kicked out a number of foreign monitors who had arrived in the city to prepare for the vote. More than 120 monitors from different countries are expected to oversee the vote.

The gunmen, who identified themselves as members of Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, said they were determined to foil the PA's plan to hold the elections next month. Another Fatah gang in the Gaza Strip said it would prevent foreigners from using the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.

In a surprise move, Fatah activists from Jerusalem announced that they would boycott the parliamentary elections. The activists claimed that the move was in protest against Israel's decision to "ban" Arab residents of the city from voting.

However, Fatah officials privately admitted that they were unhappy with the make-up of the Fatah list for the elections, accusing the party's leadership of failing to place Jerusalem representatives at the top.

"We will boycott the elections and we won't allow any elections to take place in Jerusalem," Hatem Abdel Kader, a top Fatah leader told The Jerusalem Post. "This means that the elections will have to be postponed." Abdel Kader and other Fatah candidates in the city announced that they would not run in the elections.
 
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