Sunday, December 25, 2005

Israel and the Palestinian Authority Conspiring to Postpone Elections?

Are the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority conspiring to postpone elections, preventing the Palestinians from electing Hamas as the Palestinian leadership and the negotiators in the peace process?

In an earlier entry, I discussed the potential advantages and disadvantages to the Palestinians in having Hamas negotiating for them. And while there is no certainty that Hamas would, or could, win an election with the PA (the PA is tremendously popular in Gaza), there is no question that it’s in Israel’s interest to be negotiating with the PA as opposed to a militant group like Hamas.

Israel has indicated they would prevent East Jerusalem Palestinians from voting in the elections in 2006, as these Palestinians now have Israeli citizenship and vote in Israeli elections. With 250,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem, and a strong affinity with Hamas and their push for rejecting any peace agreement that does not give Palestine sovereignty over at least part of Jerusalem, there is no question these Palestinians could have a serious effect in January.

But Israel and the Palestinian Authority conspiring? This article claims that is there is “talk on the streets in East Jerusalem” of this conspiracy, but I don’t believe that two groups who can argue for weeks over who sits where at a peace negotiation are capable of working together long enough to have a conspiracy.

Don’t be surprised if Israel is preventing the East Jerusalem Palestinians from voting with the specific goal of delaying Hamas’ rise in power. To them, it’s a win/win. If the elections are delayed, they are spending more time negotiating with the PA while finishing the fence. If the elections go forward, ¼ million pro-Hamas votes probably don’t get cast.

So while I don’t anticipate a conspiracy occurring here, I have no doubt that Israel is playing its own cards in trying to win the upcoming Palestinian election. Perhaps the US should remind Israel what is meant by democracy, and tell them that if the US is going to push for democracy throughout the region that includes their allies.

Posted by Scottage at 11:42 PM / | |