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THE MAKING OF THE PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT 2005 By MICHAEL WIDLANSKISource: http://israelbehindthenews.com/pdf/PalPresident.pdf UNITED JERUSALEM UNITED JERUSALEM Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
The Palestinian Presidential Elections of January 2005 are an important milestone in Palestinian state-building for several reasons.

Palestinian elections are a critical point in the transition between Israeli military rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and Palestinian self-government, a process that began with the Palestinian-Israeli Declaration of Principles in September 1993 and the first Palestinian presidential elections of January 1996.

With the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in November 2004, both Israel and the Palestinians recognized that the transition to a Palestinian successor to Arafat would be a crucial test of what many hope will be a process of peaceful democratization, political reform and stability. This is especially true because, despite the high hopes of 1993 and 1996, Arafat’s rule had come to be recognized by many – including many Palestinians—as more authoritarian than democratic.1

The current study is not meant as an exhaustive encyclopedic examination of the Palestinian elections. It is not meant to offer a blow-by-blow account of events or media coverage, but it is aimed at providing a clear picture in “real time” of the internal Palestinian political process as reflected in the Palestinians’ own political experience and media. The official campaign began on Dec. 26, 2004, and it was scheduled to conclude with elections on January 9, 2005.

The writer of this study closely followed daily Palestinian radio, television and newspaper accounts, in order to determine the way the media were employed.2

This study gives a detailed picture of the campaign and the media from Dec. 25, 2004 through January 4, 2005, while providing some background material on the “unofficial” campaign that began with Arafat’s perceived decline in October, 2004 and through his departure and death in November, 2004.

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