Thursday, January 26, 2006
Hamas Wins (And Everybody Loses)
Well, perhaps not quite. As Roger Simon points out, some people do stand to benefit from this. And, as I believe Oxblog was pointing out yesterday, it may well be true that many Palestinians were voting against Fatah, rather than for Hamas, in an effort to rid themselves of the cesspool of corruption that has been their lives for the past ten years.
Well, we all may have gotten more than we bargained for. Hamas says it does not plan to negotiate with Israel; I doubt very much that that will last, but it does set a tone for what follows. (For context on that stance, by the way, have a look at this, the Hamas Martyr's Oath; or you may prefer to read the full Hamas charter here.)
The Palestinian Prime Minister, and his entire cabinet, have despondently resigned, thereby showing themselves to be quitters and cowards. (What ever happened to the idea of continuity of government; of staying at your post to ensure a smooth transition of power; of keeping The People's interests first?)
Meanwhile, a "smooth transition of power" seems unlikely. Roger quotes this AP report, as printed in Ha'aretz:
RAMALLAH - Hours after unofficial results indicated Hamas' clear victory in the Palestinian elections, Hamas supporters poured into the Palestinian parliament amid clashes with Fatah loyalists.Didn't take long, did it?
The Hamas supporters then raised the Hamas flag over the building.
The two camps threw stones at each other, breaking windows in the building, as Fatah supporters briefly tried to lower the green Hamas banners. The crowd of about 3,000 Hamas backers cheered and whistled as activists on the roof of the parliament raised the Hamas banner again.
It was the first confrontation between Hamas and Fatah since the Islamic militant group won parliament elections on Wednesday.
I went looking for a photo of that, but couldn't find one. In the meantime, here's an interesting photo from the elections:
Fatah supporter outside
a Gaza City polling station
That, according to the Telegraph, is presumably a typical 'Fatah supporter'. (I can't read his headband, but presumably, were he a Hamas supporter, it would be green.)
Yes, he's holding a loaded Kalashnikov, and a custom-modified one at that... and yes, he's a 'Fatah supporter'. (Just remember that Fatah people are supposed to be the moderates in this election.)
I have a feeling that we may yet see the all-out Palestinian civil war that Abbas claims he's been avoiding at all costs. I hate to say it, but Palestinian society may just need that drastic a housecleaning.
Patrick Belton, still blogging for Oxblog on the spot, has a great take on it all:
WELL, THAT WASN'T SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN! [...] it became clear in early hours Hamas has won a most solid and unexpected victory, aided by turnout substantially higher in Gaza, its most reliable source of support, than in the West Bank.Fasten your seat belts, folks. It's going to be a bumpy ride.
It's not clear anyone wanted this, least of all Hamas, who in assuming the administration of the Palestinian national authority's creaking and often corrupt bureaucracy single-handed in a moment when its sole lifeline of European and other international support appears threatened, may just have stumbled into the biggest molasses patch the Harakat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyyah has ever faced. Unlike the Lib Dems of 1985, Hamas did not go to its constituencies to prepare for government. It had prepared for a coalition, or possibly pristine opposition, but not this.
The United States and the EU are not happy with this outcome either; I think we'll see some drastically-reduced foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority under Hamas control. And what will Israel do? Well, my guess is not necessarily better than anyone else's. But the smart move would be to stay put... and let the Palestinian infighting go on. (Later: looks like I was right. In today's Israeli Cabinet Communique, as reported by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, it says: "5. Acting Prime Minister Olmert referred to the recent Palestinian Authority elections and directed ministers not to comment on the results.")
UPDATE: Speaking about not being able to get good pictures... for a brief time, while I was editing this post this morning, my new NeoWorx tracker showed that the fifth most common 'country' for my visitors was... the Palestinian Authority! (The flag displayed was the stock Palestinian flag, formerly the flag of Fatah / PLO. I wonder if a new flag will now be necessary?)
I tried to get a screen shot of it, but wasn't able to do so before it vanished.
In any event, if you're from the Palestinian Authority and you're reading this, please do come in and say hello.