Monday, December 19, 2005

Democracy Doesn't Mean You Can Vote for Hamas

Speaking of problems with democracy.. CSM reports that Hamas is appearing increasingly dominant in Palestinian elections. First off, I told you so. That aside, the E.U. and the U.S. are quite unhappy about this turn of events and are threatening repercussions should Hamas gain a majority of the Palestinian legislative council. Not so excited about democracy anymore? It's not at all clear yet that Hamas could win a national majority, but if they do, the E.U. will demand that they renounce violence or forfeit aid money (as if that ever stopped Arafat's Fatah party from doing anything). The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a resolution threatening to cut off all support for the Palestinian Authority if Hamas has any participation in the government.

This is pure stupidity. I've argued before, and I'm sure I'll argue again, that there will not be a peaceful settlement of this conflict without Hamas' participation. They already have an effective veto over the process through violence, which they exercised over the Oslo agreement. It sure seems like it would be better for everyone if they could exercise their veto through voting in the Palestinian legislature rather than through detonating bombs in cafes in Jerusalem. Here there is an opportunity to mainstream Hamas, to bring political leaders within the organization to its front and into legitimate negotiating positions, and to support and strengthen Palestinian democracy, all in one blow. And it looks like we want to squander the opportunity...

1 comment:

Ryan said...

Another thing to keep in mind is that the incorporation of Hamas into the political structure would also make them more accountable to the people. I wouldn't be surprised if their popularity faded once they are forced to do things the hard way (e.g. compromise). I can't imagine a more effective way to "defeat" such an extremist group.