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Palestinian PM resigns after Hamas victory in 'completely fair' elections

[JURIST] Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei [BBC profile] and members of his Fatah party Cabinet submitted their resignations Thursday after initial results from Wednesday's parliamentary elections - the first in ten years - appeared to give the militant Hamas [MIPT backgrounder] movement a majority of seats in the 132-member Palestinian Legislative Council [official website]. Official results will be announced by the Central Election Commission [official website] at 7 PM local time Thursday [CEC press release]. There have been no major fraud allegations [AP report] and former US President Jimmy Carter, who led a team of international observers [NDI materials; Carter Center materials] said that the vote was "completely honest, completely fair, completely safe and without violence."

The US considers to be a terrorist organization [State Department backgrounder and list], and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday that the US position has not changed [AP report] despite the election results. Hamas leaders are known for their steadfast unwillingness to negotiate with Israel and the election of a Hamas majority has put current peace negotiations in doubt. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas [BBC profile], also a member of , has said previously that he too will resign if he is unable to pursue a peace policy with Israel. A Hamas victory signals a major political shift in the region and an internal break with the legacy of late Fatah founder Yasser Arafat [Nobel profile], the first president of the Palestinian National Authority [official website]. AP has more.

3:01 PM ET - According to preliminary results [press release] from the Central Election Commission, Hamas won 76 seats in the 132-member parliament. Fatah won 43 seats and the remaining 13 seats went to smaller parties and independent candidates. Voter turnout was almost 75 percent. BBC News has more.

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