Stop Hamas With a Vote

(New York Times) Khalil Shikaki - Israel's exit from Gaza and parts of the West Bank holds the potential to reduce violence and bring about better Palestinian-Israeli relations. Holding Palestinian elections before the Israeli withdrawal would renew the legitimacy of the PA, providing it with the political will to project leadership at a time when its existence is at stake. Elections would provide Hamas and the nationalist warlords with the opportunity to translate their popularity into parliamentary seats. The integration of these forces into the political system would make it possible for the new government to enforce existing laws against vigilante violence and to collect illegal arms. The new elections would most likely strip the old guard of much of its power and give rise to young guard nationalists - a condition for rehabilitating the PA and weakening Islamist opposition. Polls conducted since the 1996 elections show that the new parliament would be shared by three forces: the mainstream Fatah nationalists are projected to win up to 40% of the seats (compared to the 75% they now hold); independent nationalists and moderate Islamists a quarter of the seats; and members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad the rest. The writer is director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.

2004-03-26 00:00:00

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