Hamas, the radical Islamic terror group, have won the Palestinian elections quite convincingly - with over 70 seats in a 132 seat government. In other words, they will most likely form the next Palestinian government, a government who will be responsible for negotiating with Israel in any peace settlement. To say that this victory is 'shocking' like some foreign newspapers are describing it is wrong. This was expected. Hamas has always been very popular in the Palestinian street due to their heavy involvement in trying to 'improve' the lives of the Palestinians - ironic considering it is their terror activities that result in Israeli retaliations.
What amazes me is that the Palestinian people have basically made a few statements by giving Hamas so much power.
- They want a 'terrorist organization' in charge of their well-being
- They support an armed resistance against Israel
- They could care less about foreign aid.
Forget what the Palestinians call Hamas. The fact is that a dominant majority of the world views Hamas as a terrorist organization whose sole purpose is to destroy Israel. The US has already come out with a strong statement that it will not recognize a Hamas government. The EU, while in less harsher terms, has distanced itself from Hamas saying they'll only talk to a 'peaceful' government, which is something Hamas doesn't fall under. Obviously, Israel will not talk to Hamas. Amir Peretz, the leader of the left wing Labor party, has already said talking with them is not an option. The moderate parties (like Ehud Olmert's Kadima) and the right wing parties have followed with the same lines which certainly could mean more unilateral measures, like the one that ended our presence in (G)Aza. Not only have the Palestinian people alienated their 'nation' even further by voting for Hamas, they have also stated overwhelmingly that they could care less about foreign aid from the US, the EU etc. They have obviously impressed their big brothers in Iran and Syria, but is that honestly what these people needed? After a 5 year struggle with Israel, their society lays in ruins. They had an opportunity to make a change. Israel started the ball rolling with the disengagement, and the Palestinians could have continued this by voting a 'moderate' Abu Mazen into power. But Abba Eban's famous statement somehow always finds a way of coming true, 'The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.'
Surely our prospects for a peaceful settlement with our neighbors have now all but been put on hold for quite some time. But perhaps a hint of optimism - the first Israeli government to make peace with a hostile Arab nation was Mencahem Begin's Likkud, a man and party who the world feared would lead Israel to further wars with the Arab world. So who knows, maybe Hamas will pull a 'Begin', or a 'Rabin', or an 'Arik' and accept the responsibilities of leading their nation to peace. Let's wait and see ...