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Palestinian Security Forces Begin Voting for Parliamentary Candidates

Palestinian security forces have begun early voting for parliamentary candidates, in order to be free for duty during the official polling time next week.

Nearly 60,000 security personnel are eligible to vote through Monday. They will be deployed in the Palestinian territories during Wednesday's parliamentary elections.

The ruling Fatah party is facing stiff competition from its chief rival, the Islamic militant group Hamas, for the 132 seats in the Palestinian parliament.

A new Palestinian opinion poll shows Fatah with a seven-point lead over Hamas, while another survey puts the two groups in a virtual tie. Hamas is taking part in the Palestinian legislative elections for the first time.

Israel's Cabinet now says it will allow Arabs in East Jerusalem to vote for the Palestinian parliament, but will not permit candidates from Hamas to be on Jerusalem ballots.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.