January 26, 2006

A New Reality in Palestine and Israel

I believe the shake up in Palestinian and Israeli politics was more than enough to get me back to posting regularly hopefully :-)

Ariel Sharon’s near certain exit from Israeli politics and the sweeping victory of Hamas in the Palestinian legislative elections has ushered in a new era for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that nobody could have predicted. There are so many points to make on this issue, many of which have been pointed out by the media, and others which have been neglected.

First and foremost, the Hamas victory in yesterday’s elections is a clear signal that the Palestinian people cannot and will not be fooled and deceived by a corrupt leadership such as Fateh that has been continuously supported by the US and the rest of the world. Nobody, no president, prime minister, secretary of state, or any other citizen, politician, analyst, or journalist in the world can tell the Palestinians how to vote or who is better for their future. The Palestinians themselves, who are the ones living under occupation, enclosed by an apartheid wall, humiliated at checkpoints, deprived of their most basic human rights, and continuously vilified by Israel and the US are the only ones that can and should decide their future. They know that when a government makes promises and always breaks them, it is time for them to go. The Palestinian people have waited patiently for more than 30 years for the PLO and Fateh to get their act together, only to face more humiliation, destruction, and deprivation. The majority of the Palestinian people did not vote for Hamas because they want an Islamic state on the whole of historic Palestine, but because they are fed up with the existing political, economic, and social conditions in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem that Fateh and Israel have both contributed to.

Second, the Palestinians have expressed their opinion to entrust Hamas with leading their government because they have seen Hamas outside the box that the US and Israel see it. They see that Hamas provides various social and humanitarian services to the public much more efficiently than the Palestinian Authority itself. In addition, Hamas has been active on a smaller scale in various Palestinian cities and municipalities and has shown to be effective in its fiscal management, moving away from the trend of corruption and deception that had plagued many towns in the West Bank and Gaza that were governed by Hamas.

The Palestinians and the rest of the world need to take a few lessons from these events.

The fact that free and fair elections took place in the Palestinian territories, albeit with many obstacles by the Israeli government, should be considered a victory for every Palestinian. The fact that Fateh has accepted the results so far is also another success. However, no other country can claim that this democratic event took place because of their actions. Most importantly, President Bush and the US government cannot and should not claim that their actions have spread democracy to the Palestinian territories. In fact, their actions have hindered democracy with their unrelenting support for Israel which has worked to undermine democracy in Palestine.

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