No Moderate Palestinian Majority

Barry Rubin (Jerusalem Post) - * The PA continues to disintegrate. Yet there seems to be some mystical belief that the disorder in Gaza is a temporary phenomenon. A single clash between PA and Hamas forces is reported as if the PA "government" was going to move against the terrorist group, but there was no follow-up. * Reporting about the recent third round of local Palestinian elections, the Associated Press headline was "Results show Fatah defeats Hamas in vote." In the four rounds of voting for local governments (the fourth will take place on Dec. 8 in the largest cities including Nablus, Ramallah, Hebron, and Gaza City), the recent third round took place in areas where Hamas tends to be weakest. Hamas did not run candidates in many areas and Fatah won almost half the councils without opposition. In Beitunya, the largest community in this round of elections, Fatah won six of 13 council seats but Hamas has five. * The threat in the general elections is not that Hamas will seize power but that it will form a large part of a blocking majority which will stop Abbas from conducting serious negotiations with Israel. After all, the majority in Fatah is also hard-line. With support for Hamas at about one-third of Palestinians and another 5-10% supporting radical groups (including Islamic Jihad and PFLP), it is hard to see how he is going to build a support base for stopping terrorism or making the compromises necessary to reach peace with Israel. * It is hard to escape the conclusion that there is no basis for a moderate majority in Palestinian politics and thus no serious partner for peace with Israel. The key factor here is the unlikelihood there is anyone on the Palestinian side who can negotiate seriously or fulfill their commitments at all, no matter what the West or Israel does. The writer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center and edits Middle East Review of International Affairs.

2005-10-14 00:00:00

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