ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | Palestinian Democracy, Condoleezza Style 6.10.05

Palestinian Democracy, Condoleezza Style

6 October 2005

By Yisrael Ne'eman

US Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice’s recent ridiculous statement that the Islamic fundamentalist Hamas cannot participate in the Palestinian Legislative elections because of its terrorist involvement apparently was made to placate anyone living in a fantasy world or as an attempt to prove to Bush administration supporters that “the US is getting tough on terror.” Israeli officials Vice-Premier and Finance Minister Ehud Olmert and Second to the Premier Shimon Peres have echoed the unrealistic remarks.

First of all, neither Israel, the US nor anyone else will determine who will run in the January 2006 Palestinian elections; the decision belongs to the Palestinian people themselves. Second, such remarks only undermine Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) and his secular Fatah faction. The entrenched Fatah is viewed as corrupt beyond imagination at best and at worst as also collaborating with Israel and the US to oppress the Palestinian people. The one Fatah “freedom fighter” hero, Marwan Barghouti has been in jail since April 2002 when apprehended by the IDF for his part in the terrorist murders of 28 Israeli civilians. He was convicted on five counts and is serving life sentences.

In local elections this past week, Fatah claimed victory by winning more municipalities than anyone else, but a closer look shows the Islamist Hamas did not lose. Fatah took the smaller villages while Hamas won the larger, and where Hamas did not fully succeed they won a sizable minority of the vote. In the very small communities, Hamas often did not run a candidate.

It appears the Palestinians are locked into a Hamas victory whether the organization is permitted to field candidates or not. Possible gestures of good will by Israel to Abu Mazen such as prisoner releases or easing up on security and road blocks in the West Bank are viewed as Islamist victories handed to the PA because of their “guerilla” (terrorist pressures) on Israel. Israeli PM Ariel Sharon is being asked by the Palestinians and the US to make such concessions next week, with both claiming these moves will improve Abbas’ standing with the Palestinians. Either the Americans are involved in self-delusion or everyone is going through the moves with the eventual understanding of the Hamas victory.

Anarchy and chaos reign in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Although barely reported, armed groups constantly break up political gatherings, including the Palestinian Legislative Assembly debates as happened over the weekend. Not that it was truly necessary as the government of Abu Ala collapsed and no one knows how to pretend to operate the Palestinian Authority from now until the January elections. Supposedly the Palestinian non-government is considering an open ended postponement of the balloting, meaning, there may be an institutionally sanctioned “no one” in control for quite a while.

Despite the explosion killing 19 at a Hamas rally some ten days ago and the ensuing fallout and anger at the organization, the Islamists are recovering quickly. They are better armed, trained and disciplined than Fatah or the PA police. They do not need elections to control Palestinian society and if banned they could choose to run candidates under a different non-Hamas banner.

Either everyone (Condoleezza, Arik, etc.) is engaged in mass self-delusion and really believes Mahmoud Abbas and the present PA can win the hearts and minds of Palestinians or they are going through the obligatory steps before recognizing the Hamas victory.

Is this truly a Palestinian democracy or has the reality set in, but just cannot be admitted publicly?