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Voting Ends in West Bank Municipal Elections

Thousands of Palestinians across the West Bank voted Thursday in the final phase of municipal elections.

Initial estimates showed turnout was high in the first election since Israel's withdrawal from parts of the West Bank and all of the Gaza Strip.

The ruling Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is facing stiff opposition from candidates of the militant group Hamas.

Hamas has tried to portray Israel's withdrawal as a militant victory.

The vote could set the tone for Palestinian parliamentary elections in January. Israel has said it will not help facilitate those elections if Hamas participates without first disarming.

In a separate development, President Abbas condemned the killing of three militants during an Israeli military raid Thursday in the West Bank. He called it an escalation that jeopardizes the peace process.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AFP.