|It appears that Hamas has won a majority in almost every one of the 16 districts in the PA-controlled areas, including Jerusalem. At least 70, and possibly as many as 75, seats of the 132-seat legislature will go to Hamas. Fatah Prime Minister Abu Alla has resigned.
According to PA law, Chairman Abu Mazen must turn to the largest party and ask it to form the next government.
Hamas leader Mahmoud A-Zahar said, "The armed struggle will continue, and it will cause Israel to make great concessions, and will change the way Egypt and Jordan relate to Israel as well."
MK Ehud Yatom (Likud) said, "The Palestinian people decided that terrorism is the tool and the way to implement its strategy for us not to be here in this region. Our government also made its decisive contribution to this development by allowing PA elections [in this format]."
"Hamas might want to negotiate with us," Yatom said, "but we are not allowed to speak with any organization that is dedicated to our destruction."
Asked if in his estimation, the left-wing might want to negotiate with Hamas despite its goal of destroying Israel, Yatom said, "The only thing that interests them [those on the left] is to return to the 1967 borders."
Former Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said, "Israel made a very grave mistake when it allowed Hamas to participate in these elections... The international community will now find every justification to have dialogue with Hamas, claiming that they won democratic elections, even though we invested such great efforts to have the world include Hamas on its outlawed list of terror organizations."
A Likud Party statement:
"The Hamas victory is a direct result of the Disengagement, and the realization of the Palestinians that the use of terror and violence is the way to achieve diplomatic gains from Israel. The plans of Kadima and Labor for another widespread withdrawal, for nothing in return, shows us their total blindness in viewing the security reality."
MK Tzvi Hendel (National Union):
"The Kadima government led Hamas to victory on the silver platter of the Disengagement."
MK Effie Eitam (National Union):
"[Hamas chief] Mahmoud A-Zahar should send a large bouquet of roses this morning to Ehud Olmert and his government, who preferred to surrender in the war against terrorism, and instead of dealing with eliminating the Hamas leaders, chose to expel Jews from their homes. They thus proved to every PA voter that the way of Hamas and terrorism is the way to victory over Israel."
Former IDF Central District Commander Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan, head of a small new anti-corruption political party, said, "This show we have no one to rely on except ourselves. We must compete the partition as quickly as possible and withdraw from Judea and Samaria."
Shimon Peres: "Hamas won; so what? How will Hamas run the Palestinian Authority and pay salaries after the world community cuts off international aid?"
MK Sha'ul Yahalom (NRP):
"Hamas' victory proves the terrible diplomatic mistake of the Kadima path, as well as the catastrophe that will fall upon the State of Israel if Kadima forms its next government."
Voice of Israel reporter said that left-wing reactions took a long time in coming, but then presented Meretz MK Ran Cohen's response:
"This is a very grave situation for both Israel and for the Palestinian Authority. It's very sad that the Palestinians chose the terrorist organization Hamas, which provides no hope, and they will feel it. It is also very sad that we ourselves, in everything we did, including the Disengagement, encouraged Hamas more than Fatah."
Yisrael Beiteinu Party Chairman Avgidor Lieberman:
"It doesn't matter who won; the free world has lost. Hamas and Fatah are both movements that represent radical Islam. Just as in Egypt, where the Islamic Brotherhood is strengthening, and in Iran, where the extremist president was elected, the victory of radical Islam here is not only Israel's problem, but is a threat on the entire free western world. We saw this in the attacks in Madrid and London, and in the riots in Paris and Belgium. Our internal strife and unilateral concessions merely strengthen this trend."
MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union):
"We see no difference between the murderers of Fatah and those of Hamas. All those na?ve people who talk about a 'partner for peace' now realize who we're dealing with, and all those who propose further unilateral withdrawals are merely bringing the Kassams closer, to within Jerusalem."
The Yesha Council:
"The public relations team for the Disengagement and for Kadima can chalk up this achievement of Hamas' victory to its credit. In the next election, Israel will strengthen Islamic Jihad by making more concessions, and in the election after that, it's doubtful whether Israel will still be around."
Mideast Peace Quartet Urges `Respect' for Hamas Poll Victory
Jan. 27 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. and other members of a group sponsoring Middle East peace efforts endorsed the results of Palestinian elections that were won by Hamas, an Islamic movement bent on Israel's destruction.
The so-called Quartet of the United Nations, U.S., European Union and Russia "calls on all parties to respect the results of the election and the outcome of the Palestinian constitutional process so that it may unfold in an atmosphere of calm and security," a statement issued from New York said.
Israel's government rejected further peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority if it includes Hamas, after the ruling Fatah Party conceded the election and the government resigned. The U.S. and other sponsors of the "road map" peace plan said Hamas should renounce terrorism and recognize Israel's right to exist.
The quartet grouping "reiterates its view that there is a fundamental contradiction between armed group and militia activities and the building of a democratic state," the statement issued late yesterday said.
Hamas wrested control of the Palestinian legislature from the ruling Fatah Party in elections on Jan. 25, winning 76 of the body's 132 seats, election officials said yesterday. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he would immediately start talks with Hamas on establishing a new government, challenging U.S. and Israeli warnings about taking such a step.
Refusing to Talk
The Israeli government "will not negotiate with a Palestinian Authority that is comprised in part of an armed terrorist organization that calls for the destruction of the State of Israel," acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in a statement issued after an emergency meeting with security chiefs in Jerusalem.
Israel and its allies were scrambling to respond to the prospect of the authority being controlled by a group that has battled Israel by dispatching suicide bombers who have killed hundreds of citizens in the past five years. The election results were an upset after exit polls gave Fatah an edge in the vote.
Fatah, founded by the late Yasser Arafat, dominated the Palestinian Legislative Council as well as the government of the Palestinian Authority for more than a decade. It took 43 seats in yesterday's vote, Hanna Nasir, chairman of the Central Elections Commission, said at a press conference yesterday in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Ismail Hania, who led the Hamas election ticket, said Abbas should remain as president and their "political differences" shouldn't stand in the way of cooperation in a new government.
Hamas will resist pressure to recognize Israel and will call on the U.S. and European Union to prod Israel into withdrawing from the West Bank, which it captured from Jordan in 1967, he said at a news conference in Gaza City.
"We want equality, security and freedom for all the Palestinian people, but this cannot come without the end of the occupation on our land," Hania said.
During a briefing in Ramallah, Abbas affirmed his support for the U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan intended to create a Palestinian state in peaceful coexistence with Israel.
A prominent Israeli politician suggested that possibility was now diminished.
"The state of `Hamastan' has been created before our eyes, an Iranian satellite state in the image of the Taliban," former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will run against Olmert in March 28 elections, said in remarks broadcast on Israel Radio.
Officials representing the main backers of a plan to create a Palestinian state, the U.S., Russia, European Union and United Nations, also discussed the situation yesterday.
In Washington, President George W. Bush said he would like Abbas to stay on, and vowed that the U.S. won't deal with Hamas if it maintains its commitment to violence against Israel.
Bush pointed to corruption as a cause of the election upset.
"Obviously people were not happy with the status quo," Bush said. The vote indicated Palestinians were demanding "honest government" and improvements in education, health care and other public services, he told reporters.
Shukri Abed, chairman of language and regional studies at the Middle East Institute in Washington, said he expects that Fatah will end up joining Hamas as junior partner in a coalition government. Hamas will probably welcome it, he said.
"They are isolated worldwide," Abed, who is a Palestinian born in Israel, said by telephone about Hamas. "Internal Palestinian dynamics will force Fatah to be part of the government. They cannot give the Israelis an excuse that they don't have a partner for peace."
Hamas rolled to victory on the strength of its showing in district elections, where it pushed its anti-corruption theme.
Candidates were selected by two systems of voting -- one where 11 slates running in nationwide elections were awarded seats according to the percentage of votes they won and another where voters chose representatives by districts. The turnout was 77 percent of registered voters, the commission said.
Hamas led Fatah in both ballots, collecting 30 seats in national voting and 46 in the districts, while Fatah won 27 nationwide and 16 in the districts, the elections commission said.
The rest of the legislature will be split among a group of small parties, including the Third Way, whose leaders include former Finance Minister Salam Fayyad. He had sought to clean up the authority's finances.
To contact the reporters on this story:
Jonathan Ferziger in Tel Aviv at email@example.com;
Aaron Sheldrick in Tokyo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last Updated: January 26, 2006 21:21 EST