Thursday, January 26, 2006

Fatah Down in Flames

Holy crap. I always thought Hamas carried a lot of popular support from Palestinians, but I didn't anticipate this. The political fallout will be fascinating. As I've said in the past, I think this is probably for the best. Once Israel gets past its initial shock and revulsion, there will finally be an opportunity for negotiations with the potential for real results.

Update: The Newshour showed some lengthy clips of a Bush press conference where he discussed the election outcome. I hesitate to use the word "nuance" in the same sentence as President Bush, but I thought he did a good job. He put on pressure regarding the whole 'destruction of Israel' thing, but did not vilify Hamas more than necessary and strongly acknowledged the positive role of functional democracy with real competing parties in Palestine. He acknowledged that Hamas maybe could provide better domestic services and was not as corrupt as Fatah and did not give the impression that Palestinians were evil or stupid to elect them. I think that's about the right position to take. Western nations should continue to apply pressure against some of the more repulsive parts of the Hamas platform. But that should be balanced with an acknowledgment that they are the legitimate government that they have made positive contributions to Palestinian society and can continue to do so. Pressure is good. I think I could even get on board with a policy that there be no aid or negotiations until Hamas drops their charter demand for the destruction of Israel. I would probably draw the line, however, at demands that Hamas permanently renounce violence prior to negotiations. For one, I don't think it would happen. For another, I don't think it is fair unless Israel made the same pledge (which would obviously be problematic as regards their policing power in the occupied territories). Also it's not as if Fatah's renunciation of violence ever meant anything. It's no secret that they had a militant wing that continued to carry out attacks. I would hate to see the peace process derailed by a superficial pissing match of that sort. In any case, so far so good. Now we'll have to wait and see how the leadership structure shakes out for Hamas and how this affects the upcoming Israeli elections...

1 comment:

Ryan said...

Great post, Joe. Another interesting aspect of the Hamas political ascendency is the new responsibility it puts on Hamas. I think it is all too easy for a group to become popular when they are not beholden to the people and can simply attack and depict the government administration as inept (in this case correctly so with Fatah). Nevertheless, Hamas is now about to discover just how challenging it can be to govern and attempt to improve the lives of its citizens when it has to be done legitimately.