Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Friday, May 26, 2006

Abbas challenges Hamas
After finding himself in an untenable position as the prime minister of a state where the elected government does not want him, Abbas has laid his cards on the table and is poised to force a watershed referendum on the two-state solution. Abbas is calling a national referendum on accepting a Palestinian state alongside Israel if Hamas does not agree to the idea within 10 days.

This presents an interesting challenge for Hamas, who have long since expounded the preference for Israel to be wiped of the face of the planet. It is a critical moment for Hamas if it is to make the unlikely development from a terrorist organisation into a political entity. We should see Hamas pushed into a corner, where should they accede to the referendum, and thus tacitly endorse they will force a rift between themselves and the more militant majority of the group, and should they refuse the referendum, they lose any political credibility they may be clinging on to.

I think that Hamas will agree to the referendum, which will put the Hamas-Fatah power struggle, and indeed the hopes of results in the Middle East, on an absolute knife-edge.