Mid-East Realitieswww.middleeast.org


MER - MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 26 January:
The Israelis have already positioned themselves, however duplicitously, to claim they are the champions not only of the 'peace process', and the 'road map', but of a 'Palestinian State'. The reality is of course that what the Israelis have done for decades now -- all with the cannivance and ever-increasing support of the Americans (who of course claim otherwise) -- has undermined the 'peace process', scuttled the 'road map', and made any real Palestinian State west of the Jordan as envisioned in U.N. resolutions going back to 1947 and 1967 all but impossible now. Years ago the Israelis put their most bloodied war criminal General in complete charge as Prime Minister and turned even more to hard-line Revionist Zionism for their worldview. Now the Palestinians have turned away from their secular, Westernized, corrupted, and co-opted types to their own homegrown indigenous Muslim types adjusting under such adversities their worldview. Remember as well that just as Hezbollah in Lebanon arose from the Israeli invasion/occupation in 1982 Hamas arose from the brutal Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza that began in 1967 and lead to the first Intifada and then Hamas twenty years later. These breaking articles from The Independent (London), Pravda (Moscow), and Bangladesh:

Hamas claims victory

The Independent, UK, 26 January 2006:

The Islamic militant group Hamas captured a large majority of seats in Palestinian legislative elections, officials in Hamas and the ruling Fatah Party said today - a devastating upset that is sure to throw Middle East peacemaking into turmoil.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia and his Cabinet ministers submitted their resignations to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas today. "This is the choice of the people. It should be respected," Qureia said. "If it's true (the results), then the president should ask Hamas to form a new government. For me, personally, I sent my resignation."

Under the law, Abbas must ask the largest party in the new parliament - presumably Hamas - to form the next government. Abbas was elected separately a year ago and remains president.

Hamas said before the election it does not want to govern alone, and would prefer to bring Fatah into a coalition. Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said today that the group will declare its intentions after official results are announced.

Israel and the United States have said they would not deal with a Hamas-led Palestinian government. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has said he would step down if he could no longer pursue his peace agenda with Israel.

Palestinian election officials confirmed that Hamas had won a large majority of the seats up for grabs in electoral districts in the West Bank and Gaza. Half the seats in Wednesday's parliament vote were chosen on a national list and the other half by districts.

The Central Election Commission said the vote count had not been completed and that it would make an official announcement at 7pm (1700 gmt) today.

Initial exit polls on Wednesday night had forecast a slight edge for Fatah, with Hamas coming in a strong second. The polls predicted that neither Hamas nor Fatah would have enough seats to form a government alone, and would have to rely on smaller parties to form a coalition.

However, on Thursday morning, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said his group had won about 70 seats in the 132-member parliament. Later in the day, another Hamas official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the number had risen to at least 75.

Officials in Fatah conceded that Hamas had won about 70 seats. They spoke on condition of anonymity because counting in some districts was continuing.

The discrepancy between the exit polls and Thursday's information was apparently due to voting in districts, where Hamas was apparently able to capitalize on divisions within Fatah.

A senior Fatah member, Saeb Erekat, said he could not confirm the partial results, but blamed Israel's refusal to resume peace talks with a Fatah-led government for the party's poor showing.

"Israel has declared us non-partners about four years ago and they were not speaking to our elected president," he told Israel Army Radio. "Everybody was blaming Fatah for every mistake in the world. Everybody was tying our hands and our legs and throwing us into the sea. And now I think all these things, including our mistakes in Fatah, led to this result."

Acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Wednesday, before Hamas claimed victory, that Israel cannot trust a Palestinian leadership in which the Islamic group has a role, according to a statement by his office.

"Israel can't accept a situation in which Hamas, in its present form as a terror group calling for the destruction of Israel, will be part of the Palestinian Authority without disarming," Olmert told US Senator Joseph Biden in a meeting, according to Olmert's office. "I won't hold negotiations with a government that does not stick to its most basic obligation of fighting terror."

Israel is willing to help the Palestinians and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas "a great deal" but only if they crack down on militants, Olmert said.

Israel has repeatedly asked Abbas to force Hamas and other militant groups to disarm but Abbas has refused, warning such an act could cause civil war. Hamas has committed dozens of suicide bombings against Israel.

US President George W. Bush told The Wall Street Journal in an interview Wednesday that the United States will not deal with Hamas until it renounces its position calling for the destruction of Israel.

The election Wednesday was the Palestinians' first truly competitive vote, with Hamas contesting a parliamentary vote for the first time and winning considerable clout.

Before the vote Fatah had promised voters to clean up corruption and try to relaunch peace-making with Israel. Following the exit polls showing them winning, Fatah loyalists fired rifles out of car windows, sounded their horns and waved the yellow flag of their movement as they drove around the streets after getting word of the exit polls.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians flooded polling stations throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip for a vote that would determine how Palestinians wanted to be governed and whether they would pursue negotiations or confrontation with Israel.

Long lines formed at polling stations, and 77.7 percent of 1.3 million eligible voters cast ballots. Under a compromise with Israel, some Arabs in east Jerusalem were allowed to cast absentee ballots at post offices in the disputed city, and voting was extended there by two hours because postal workers were slow.

Routine power cuts in the Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis forced election workers to count ballots by candlelight.

"Whoever is the winner, it's a great victory for the Palestinians in general because partnership starts from this minute," said Samer Lulu, 29, a merchant who voted in Gaza City.

Hamas' success has alarmed Israel and the West, but Abbas has argued that luring the group into politics would tame it and increase the chances for peace.

The election will usher in a new parliament and Cabinet, but Abbas, who was elected president last year, will remain head of the Palestinian Authority regardless of the results.

"We are coming into a new phase. In this phase, we are calling for the international community to help us return to the negotiating table with the Israelis, conclude the peace process and implement it," Abbas said after the voting ended.

Palestinians were given the day off to vote, and the election was held in a celebratory atmosphere that was rare in the recent years of fighting with Israel. Some activists covered their cars with red carnations, as if for a wedding, and others blasted campaign songs from car stereos and storefront speakers.

Campaign posters hung on nearly every wall, dangled from electric lines over the street and were plastered to the hoods of cars. Some children ran through the streets wearing the green flag of Hamas as a cape. Others wore the black-and-white checkered scarf of Fatah.

Some 13,500 police officers guarded the 1,008 polling stations to prevent gunmen from disrupting the vote, and there were no reports of major violence. In the West Bank's Balata refugee camp, militants who had threatened to burn down polling stations checked their assault rifles at the door with a flourish and peacefully voted.

Hoping to harness a wave of discontent with Fatah, Hamas ran an anti-corruption campaign, calling its party Reform and Change.

"We've reached the worst. The most important thing now is change," said Raed Abu Hamam, 35, a construction worker in Gaza's Beach camp who said he has lost faith in Fatah. Fatah appealed for another chance to clean up the government and expand an economy shattered by nearly five years of fighting with Israel. Many Fatah voters said they were grudgingly supporting the party out of old loyalties.

"The Palestinian Authority did nothing for us. People here have no jobs, while people in the PA got millions of dollars," said Ali Taha, 35, a laborer in the Amari refugee camp in Ramallah, who voted for Fatah anyway.

Though the election appeared likely to turn on internal issues, the results will have deep implications for future peace efforts with Israel.

Abbas said Wednesday he is prepared to resume peace talks, even if Hamas joins his government. Hamas is expected to ask for service ministries - health, education and welfare - and to leave diplomacy to others.

"We are ready to negotiate," Abbas said. "We are partners with the Israelis. They don't have the right to choose their partner."

Terrorists win election in Palestine

Pravda (Moscow)01/26/2006 12:43

Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel, and Israel rejects any talks with Hamas

The election in Palestine took an unexpected turn. The Hamas terror group claimed a winning majority in the 132-seat race. Final results, initially scheduled to be announced on Thursday morning will now be announced in the evening, the Palestinian Central Election Commission said. It gave no reason for the delay.The election in Palestine, photo by AP

Hamas' claim of winning 70 seats also was at odds with two exit polls that showed President Mahmoud Abbas' ruling Fatah Party with a slender five-seat lead, although some reports quoted anonymous sources within Fatah as supporting the Hamas tally, nypost.com reports.

The group vowed not to disarm or negotiate with the Jewish state if it enters the Palestinian parliament after the election. Its chief candidate Ismail Haniya said there was no contradiction between guns and democracy as he voted in a Gaza refugee camp, according to dawn.com.

The Americans and the Europeans say to Hamas: either you have weapons or you enter the legislative council. We say (we will have) weapons and the legislative council, there is no contradiction between the two," he said.

Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel, and Israel rejects any talks with Hamas until it abandons that position and gives up its arms, so a Hamas victory could lead to deadlock. However, Hamas leaders say that they want to be part of a coalition government even if they win a majority of seats, and that they prefer for Hamas to run social welfare ministries and leave the top posts, including running foreign policy, to others. Some Israeli commentators say an elected government that includes Hamas will have more legitimacy to make a deal that will stick than Arafat's unelected Fatah did in 1993 - when it pushed through the Oslo Accords over the objections of Hamas. The accords are now widely considered a failure, says boston.com.

The US has encouraged the parliamentary elections as part of its drive to promote democracy and has reiterated that it will accept the results as the will of the people. However, Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by Washington because of its policy seeking the destruction of Israel.

McCormack said the US would continue to work with the Palestinian Authority but would wait and see the nature of the new cabinet and the policies it advocates.He said there were no plans to remove Hamas from the State Department terror list.

Commentary / Editorial from Bangladesh

Who will rule Palestine after January 25 parliamentary election?

A.H. Jaffor Ullah, USA

Thursday January 26 2006 16:01:52 PM BDT The news of the possible outcome of January 25 parliamentary election in Palestine is sending a shockwave allover the world. Most news organizations from the West had sent their news crew to cover this historic election.

Traditionally, Palestine had been ruled by Al-Fatah - a political party that is the brainchild of late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat. Chairman Arafat (that is the name Arafat liked that was modeled after Chairman Mao of China) was immensely popular among his people. Even though his government was plagued with financial mismanagement and corruption, somehow he managed to control the power single-handedly. Things however have changed dramatically since his death in November 2004. One of Arafat's trusted lieutenant from Fatah, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, was chosen to lead the nation in January 2005. His term of presidency runs for 4 years and set to end in January 2009. Therefore, it hardly matters which party comes to power in tomorrow's (Jan. 25, 2006) election. But wait, there are other considerations. President Abbas will not be able to bring reform through legislation if his party, Fatah, fails to gain majority seats in the parliament.

According to a popular poll taken by Jerusalem Media and Communication Center, the rival party of Abbas's Fatah, the Hamas, is just behind the ruling party each having 30-32% support among would be voters. And there is this possibility that Islamist party, Hamas, may even capture more seats than Fatah. And this faint possibility is causing concern among Western nations. Israel, which shares border with Palestine, will be watching the poll result very anxiously. Israel still has border disputes with Palestine and more occupied land by the Jewish nation was set to be free in the near future.

Palestinians vote in the parliamentary election in a decade has the potential to bring the powerful Islamic movement Hamas into the government for the first time. This possibility is making the government high officials in Israel a bit nervous. The victory for Hamas, which is a possibility as per the recently taken poll result, could herald an end to Middle East peacemaking. The Bush Administration is equally worried for Hamas is considered a terrorist organization. There are reasons for such thinking among westerners. Hamas has taken responsibility for many of the suicide bombings targeted against Israeli citizens; the leaderships of Hamas have taken vows to destroy the Jewish state.

About 900 foreign poll observers have gone to Palestine to watch the election and to make sure that no voting irregularities mar the election result. More than 400 candidates will be running for the 132-member Palestinian Legislative Council. At the last count about 11 political parties have given nominations to their candidates. The latest popularity poll has placed two parties neck-to-neck competing for the first position. President Abbas's party, Fatah, is edging 2% higher than Hamas. The extreme militant groups in Palestine including Islamic Jihad are boycotting the election and had pledged not to interfere with the election process.

Though the party's charter called for eventual destruction of the Jewish state, the Hamas has changed its character in the last several years. It wants to be a mainstream political party; therefore, it had followed a truce in a five-year old Palestinian uprising (Intifada II). Hamas leaderships now say that they won't mind talking with Israel. President Abbas encouraged having Hamas members in the parliament to engage them in the legislative process with the hope that the party will renounce violence and its members disarm. The entire process will lead to a lasting peace that is mandated by the U.S.-backed peace "road map" for an independent Palestinian state that will stand next to Israel.

The U.S. State Department is fretting over the possibility of a Hamas win because it views the party as 殿 terrorist organization.・ Secretary Condoleezza Rice had opined recently in Washington that the U.S. would have practical problems dealing with Hamas for this classification.

Many political pundits in Middle East are trying to figure out the reasons behind Hamas痴 popularity in Palestine. Many Palestinians are fed up with the endemic corruption and financial mismanagement in Fatah-led government. They think that Hamas could bring an end to this menace. Also, the rise of Islamism worldwide has put Hamas in limelight in Palestine.

Mr. Mathew Gutman, a reporter for USA TODAY wrote on January 23, 200g as follows: 鄭lthough the outcome wouldn't mean Abbas would have to step down ・his four-year term ends in January 2009 ・it could derail his efforts to unify and bring order to the Palestinian territories and return to peace talks with Israel after five years of violence. In an interview on Dec. 18 with the Palestinian daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, Abbas, 70, warned he may step down if he is unable to pursue his policies.・

Mr. Abbas who had received about 62% of vote in January 2005 to become the president in post-Arafat Palestine is now viewed as a weak leader even by his own people. Abbas has been unable to convince Israel痴 prime minister to agree to a face-to-face meeting. Last week, acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said Israel would begin talks with the Palestinians only after Abbas disarmed groups such as Hamas. Abbas has said that he would wait until after elections to decommission the militias as called for by the U.S.-brokered 途oadmap・plan that sets out steps to restart talks.

A week ago, the European Commission announced it would suspend half of its aid to the Palestinian Authority, citing a lack of budgetary discipline. The ordinary Palestinians also complain of Fatah痴 corruption and weakness.

Perhaps Palestinians are thinking of having a two-party democratic system and that could be the reason for Hamas's rise in popularity. Many Palestinians think that Hamas being an Islamic party would be incorruptible.

In summary, the election result in the upcoming parliamentary election to be held on January 25, 2006, may bring a surprise as per some poll result. If that happens, then this would be the first time that Fatah will lose an election in Palestine. President Abbas痴 position as the president is secure until January 2009, but Hamas may change the politics in this troubled land. One thing is for sure, if Hamas comes victorious, many analysts will blame America for helping Islamists to gain the confidence of their people in respective countries. Hamas痴 meteoric rise in power will be viewed as fallout from Bush痴 get tough policy with Islamic militants in the aftermath of 9-11 terrorist attacks. We are reminded that Newtonian laws of Motion states, 擢or every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.・ This axiom in physical world may also apply to world politics for dominance.

Dr. A.H. Jaffor Ullah, a researcher and columnist, writes from Ithaca, New York

Mid-East Realitieswww.middleeast.org

Source: http://www.middleeast.org/articles/2006/1/1329.htm