This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/1583
January 26, 2006
|Hamas Wins PA Election |
14:10 Jan 26, '06 / 26 Tevet 5766
By Hillel Fendel
|Unofficial but nearly final results show that the Hamas terror organization has won a majority of the seats in the PA legislature, and will form its next gov't. Abu Mazen is considering resigning.|
|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:
MK Tzvi Hendel (National Union):
MK Effie Eitam (National Union):
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):
Voice of Israel reporter said that left-wing reactions took a long time in coming, but then presented Meretz MK Ran Cohen's response:
Yisrael Beiteinu Party Chairman Avgidor Lieberman:
MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union):
The Yesha Council:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org; Aaron Sheldrick in Tokyo at email@example.com.
Last Updated: January 26, 2006 21:21 EST
Terrorists voted into power
By Tim Butcher in Ramallah
Your view: dealing with Hamas
Hamas, the Islamic group behind suicide bombings against Israel, was swept to power yesterday in a stunning victory in the Palestinian general election.
It vaulted from being a shadowy fringe movement advocating the destruction of Israel to a party of government, sending shock waves through the region and beyond.
Western countries united to call on Hamas to change its charter after it achieved what amounted to a peaceful Islamic revolution through the ballot box. As Hamas has close links to Teheran, the victory extended considerably the influence of the Iranian Islamic republic across the Middle East.
Preliminary results gave Hamas a handsome majority of 76 seats in the 132-seat assembly.
President George W Bush made clear that he considered Hamas a pariah until it renounced violence.
He said: "A political party that articulates the destruction of Israel as part of a platform is a party with which we will not deal."
Asked if the efforts to find peace in Israel-Palestine were now dead, he said: "Peace is never dead, because people want peace. On the other hand, I don't see how you can be a partner in peace if you advocate the destruction of a country as part of your platform."
Israel appeared thrown by the result as the acting prime minister, Ehud Olmert, convened a high-level meeting of advisers. Later he said that he would not negotiate with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas.
Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, said that he was committed to negotiations with Israel. He would start immediate consultations to form a new government. He hinted that, if necessary, he would bypass Hamas in order to continue talks with Israel.
There were only modest celebrations in some Palestinian towns in Gaza and the West Bank, almost as if Hamas supporters were taken aback by the scale of victory.
Tony Blair said that Britain recognised the Hamas victory. "But I think it is also important for Hamas to understand that there comes a point - and that point is now, after a strong showing - where they have to decide between a path of democracy or a path of violence."
While the European Union and America regard Hamas as terrorists, British diplomats represented the EU during talks with Hamas councillors who won local elections in the West Bank last year. Britain argued that it was possible to have links with Hamas about official municipal business as long as security and militancy were not discussed. A similar formula may be used by EU officials as they work out how to deal with a Hamas-run government.
After the resignation of the government led by Fatah, the non-Islamic nationalist movement founded by the late Yasser Arafat, Hamas appeared to be in no hurry to form a new administration.
Various senior figures called for a national unity government with members of other parties, including Fatah, working alongside Hamas. Ismail Haniya, one of its senior members elected to parliament, said its demand for Israel to leave the occupied territories had not diminished.
|26 January 2006: Big poll turnout sees power shift for Palestinians|
|25 January 2006: Sharon's stand-in signals more West Bank withdrawals|
|23 January 2006: Hamas rallies to election call from jail|
|22 January 2006: Brothers divided by politics put stark choice to Palestinians|
|17 January 2006: Palestinian youth frustrated by Arafat's old guard|
I have told my kids to leave'
In the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, the election left many puzzling over what the future holds.
Muhammad Rahal, 40, a former army officer, said: "The people are punishing Fatah because Fatah did not honour those involved with the struggle, they honoured thieves and thugs.
"The people have fled from their reality for the moment, moving from moderation to extremism. Moderation failed to deliver a result so they are now trying extremism."
Nuha Atwa, 33, a mother of four, lived several years in the United States but now is back in Ramallah.
"Of course I voted for Hamas," she said. "We all decided that to vote for a change meant we must vote for Hamas. We are tired with what went before.
"My brother called me from his home in Florida to say, 'Now look what you have done', but I said we should not be afraid of change."
Elias Jubran, 60, a Christian and the only wholesaler of alcohol in the West Bank, said: "I have nothing personally against Hamas and they have nothing personal against me, but what I do is against their principles so I am expecting problems. My distillery was burnt down in the 1980s and 1990s and I know no security is guaranteed. I have told my kids to leave this bloody country."
Asaad Ghazali, 42, a plumber in East Jerusalem, said: "The Palestinians suffer from many internal problems and I do not think Hamas has a magic wand to solve all these problems.
"Hamas has no programme. To say Islam is the solution is not a realistic programme. People are in a state of joy for achieving their revenge, but they have not thought through the repercussions."
This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/1583