Mid-East Realitieswww.middleeast.org

Upcoming from MER tomorrow - THE MOTHER OF ALL HOAXES
FlashBack to Colin Powell at the U.N. four years ago tomorrow


MER - Washington - MiddleEast.Org - 4 Febuary 2006: Now it's not from Moscow with love...but it is at times at least from Moscow with more realism and insight, however inadequately written and phrased, than the kinds of articles usually appearing in the American media about Hamas. Worse yet is the calcified and fearful political situation in Washington where one think-tank and university after another since the Hamas election seem to be competiting to put on misguided forums about Hamas while nearly always refusing to invite speakers and analysts actually involved with Hamas. Indeed it is the same old game in Washington -- politically correct persons associated with the Israeli/Jewish lobby and acceptable kosherized persons of Arab background (usually well known to be on-the-take and on-the-make and oked by that lobby) are the only persons given the floor. Alas, it's just more of the same in imperial Washington from the oh-so-polite but oh-so-politically and intellectually corrupted Washington power circles even at this critical revolutionary time in world history.

Hamas election victory in Palestine: Goodbye peace, goodbye road map
The Palestinian elections are an excellent example of a truly democratic electoral procedure

1 February 2006: The parliamentary elections that took place in Palestine last week are of historic importance to that country. It is not that the Palestinians were electing their parliament, they have done it before. But the previous elections a decade ago were rigged by Fatah party, which has dominated the legislature ever since. The latest elections offered a real challenge to Fatah, a movement founded by Yasser Arafat half a century ago. Then and there, Fatah became a cornerstone of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The question was: How many seats in the 132-seat parliament will be won by Hamas, a radical Islamic movement, which was a chief rival to Fatah in the races.Hamas

The elections brought out a sensation. Some analysts even called the results a catastrophe, an earthquake. In fact, nobody could predict such results. We should take a closer look at Hamas so that we may understand why the majority of Palestinians voted for an organization that is mostly known for its terrorist activities.

Hamas is an abbreviation of the “Islamic Resistance Movement.” It was founded in 1987 by the sheikh Ahmed Yassin who was assassinated two years ago by the Israelis. Hamas emerged as an offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood known for its motto “Islam is the solution.” Hamas regards the conflict with Israel as Jihad, the holy war between Islam and Judaism. In the very beginning of its activity, Hamas unveiled the plans for the creation of an Islamic state in Palestine that should be completely liberated from the Zionists. Hamas categorically rejects Israel's legal right to exist. In his recent statement, Mahmoud Zahar, head of Hamas, said that the Middle East rejected “the Zionist formation” (a term invariably used by Islamic Extremists for referring to Israel) as the human body would reject a transplant.

Hamas has always refused to join the Palestine Liberation Organization. It strongly objects to any settlement based on coexistence of two independent states in Palestine. Hamas condemned the Oslo peace agreement as capitulation, it also refuses to accept the “road map”, a peace plan approved by the international community. The plan provides for an Israeli pullout to the 1967 borders.

The relationship between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority has always been ambiguous. On the one hand, Yasser Arafat threw Hamas's leaders into jail. On the other hand, he seems to have used terrorists for putting pressure on the Israeli authorities. Following another Palestine uprising in 2005, the organization's military wing supplied dozens of suicide bombers for terrorists attacks against Israeli civilians. The suicide bombings claimed the lives of hundreds of the Israeli people.

Hamas's huge popularity with the Palestinians stems not only from its fanatical suicide bombers. Unlike the corrupt Fatah-dominated leadership of the Palestine Authority, Hamas has been taking steps to address some social issues of the Palestinians. The organization builds hospitals and schools, provide bank loans. That is why Hamas candidates scored a victory in last year's municipal elections in several large towns. The victory was a serious challenge to Fatah's ostensibly solid monopoly on power. Everybody was wondering whether Hamas would be able to repeat its strong showing at the polls in the upcoming national elections.

Very few analysts could have forecast the outcome of the elections with Hamas winning more seats than Fatah, a longstanding dominant force on the political landscape of the Middle East. Now all the forecasts have been shredded. Hamas won the election in a landslide victory. It could have never happened had Arafat been alive and politically active. As a founder and leader of the Palestine revolution, he might have prevented the toppling of the powerful political machine.

The term “machine” can come quite handy when describing Fatah and looking for reasons of its defeat in the latest national elections. The ordinary Palestinians have viewed Fatah as a corrupt bureaucracy machine whose chief operators have shamelessly indulged themselves in the misappropriation of huge funds donated by foreign states. The Palestinian Authority is the world's biggest recipient of foreign aid. At the same time, most residents of the Palestinian Authority live in misery. That is the main reason behind the fiasco of Fatah. The voters cast their ballots for Hamas not only due to inability of Fatah to arrange a peace settlement in the conflict with Israel. The vote showed a strong desire for internal changes and social equality. It would be wrong to assume that every single one who voted for Hamas is a supporter of terrorist methods. The voters were more concerned about dire straits they live in. Therefore, they voted against those who built luxurious villas, and they voted in favor of those who live side by side to the common people. The will of the common people proved stronger than the power of the state apparatus. The Palestinian elections are an excellent example of a truly democratic electoral procedure, a rare case in a third-world country. It is a lesson to many a political force: the ruling party has lost an open political fight.

Now that the election results have been announced, many analysts would like to know what the future holds for the Palestinians. It looks like a total disaster at first glance. One can say goodbye to the peace settlement process and the road map. Israel has already said that it would not negotiate with a government headed by those who openly aim to destroy Israel. The amount of foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority may be considerably cut. The autonomy virtually has no domestic resources of its own, and therefore will be doomed to impoverishment and complete degradation as a result. There will be no prospects for any progress in the peace settlement should the peace process get stalled and Israel backs out of its disengagement policy and keep the settlements on the West Bank. As a result, Hamas will declare that the organization has run out of peaceful means in the fight for the Palestinian cause, and Hamas militants will resume their suicidal attacks against Israel.

Meanwhile, let us not jump to conclusions. There are examples in history showing that even the most radical political forces could change their policies after coming to power. Hamas assumed responsibility for the destiny of the country. It means Hamas's leaders should focus on the needs of the people who voted for the radical Islamic movement not because of its terrorist methods. The people voted out of their hopes for the better, and those hopes are linked to Hamas. The people apparently hope that a Hamas government will improve an appalling standard of living of the population – a mission impossible without foreign aid. Perhaps Hamas's leaders will have to make a choice as to the next priorities. One has to do with the continuation of their fight for the eventual destruction of Israel (the prospects are few) by terrorist operations. The other concerns the efforts for the consolidation of power at least on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Assumedly, Hamas will split up in two. The one faction will be represented by die-hard “ideologists” who stick to the original concept of a “unified Arab Islamic Palestine.” The other one will comprise those who advocate a more pragmatic approach. Hamas may take a U-turn and accept the road map's two-state solution if the latter faction gets the upper hand. In that case Israel and the international community alike will have to deal with a new Palestinian government. Consequently, the peace process will resume.

The point is that real steps are required to make Israel believe in the transformation of Hamas, which is splattered with blood of many slain Israelis. Convincing Israel will be the hardest job. The Likud Party headed by its hawkish leader Benjamin Netanyahu will supposedly benefit from the victory of Hamas. “We told you so. We pulled out the Gaza Strip and now the terrorists have won,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying. The developments in the Middle East now depend on Hamas extremists who came to power in Palestine. The prospects for peace in the region will look rather bleak unless Hamas lays downs its weapons and recognizes Israel.

URL: http://english.pravda.ru/world/asia/75029-hamas-0

Mid-East Realitieswww.middleeast.org

Source: http://www.middleeast.org/articles/2006/2/1340.htm