Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The voter's contradiction
It seems as though Hamas will acquire enough votes in today's Palestinian elections to force themselves into a power-sharing government with the Fatah movement. What makes this so bizarre is that this is a "party" that does not believe in democracy in the first place. It infers that there will be little hope of peace in the next few years in Israel/Palestine as Hamas' belligerent approach to Israel is markedly different to the more moderate Fatah movement. There are centuries of hate between Hamas and Israel, and both sides will be hard pressed to forego their electoral support and reach any kind of agreement, especially since Hamas is still a banned group in Israel.

Many commentators have stated that the rise in support for Hamas is less a support of Hamas' policies, and more retribution against decades of corruption and mismanagement by the ruling Fatah. This could then bring about the worst situation for Palestine; a Hamas-controlled government with a apathetic voter base who don't really care what Hamas does, as long as Fatah is not in power.

The key Palestinian question remains, whoever is in power: Can they control violent activity in Palestine? Hamas is made up of a number of factions, and there are a number of additional extremist groups outside of their control. Hamas can lay little claim to be able to tame them all, although undoubtedly they could be more effective than Fatah. It takes one suicide bomb to derail a sensitive peace process, and one cannot see a Hamas/Fatah government being able to monopolise all radical groups in Palestine, even if Hamas were to take the highly unlikely step of renouncing terrorism.

It will be an interesting election, but one can only feel that with the fall from power of Sharon, and the rise of Hamas as a political Palestinian force, another chance for peace has been lost for at least five years.