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Hamas Wins, Cabinet Resigns

The outcome is, as of yet, unofficial. And as official as it’ll need to be. Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, has claimed victory in yesterday’s Palestinian parliamentary elections - winning up to 75 out of 132 seats, according to Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman. The margin is significant enough that Fatah party officials have accepted defeat – and more significantly, Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei and the Palestinian Cabinet have resigned to make way for a Hamas led government.

It appears that Mahmoud Abbas failed to provide the leadership necessary to maintain his corrupt party’s control over the Palestinian political landscape. And in return for the potholes of principal and/or merit that he created, Hamas was able to pave broad roads of support through its adamant stance against Israel, which it will not recognize, and by its local outreach efforts. Being active in the community, while Fatah remained a distant memory, enabled Hamas to reach the disaffected who previously supported the likes of Arafat but find none of him in the vacant stuffings of todays Fatah leadership. If you want change, and the voters did, the most visible proponent of change in this election was Hamas.

The implications of this election are unknown at this stage. Yet we can expect that Islamists outside the Palestinian Territories and others, perhaps some here in the US, who oppose American efforts to bring democracy to the Middle East, will seek gains (political and otherwise) through this event. The question of how the Arab and/or Islamic world would respond to democracy, whether or not it would make decisions whose values we could understand if not support, and whether Middle Eastern citizens would choose extremist ideologies such as that of Hezbollah, Hamas or al-Qaeda over more liberal democratic ideals remains unanswered. Palestinians aren’t representative enough of the Middle East to reflect the course of elections elsewhere.

What it does tell us is that peace has not yet arrived in the hearts of yesterday’s voters.

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» Fatah vs Hamas (UPDATE) from Stormwarning's Counterterrorism
UPDATE: Proving once again that if you spring too fast in today's World where information (sometimes partial or premature) flows in real time, you can stumble and skin your knee. So as I awake this morning, the headlines, some contradictory, [Read More]

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Both the U.S. and the EU provide significant aid to the Palestinians. The issue now becomes whether or not to continue to provide that aid given that Hamas is categorized as a terrorist organization by the U.S.

Captain Ed is firmly convinced it should be stopped immediately.

Welcome To War

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said this morning that the U.S. position on Hamas as a terrorist organization has not changed, despite the election results. "You cannot have one foot in politics and another in terror," she said. "Our position on Hamas has therefore not changed."

The EU has a different perspective. "We are prepared to work with any Palestinian government, if this government seeks peace, using peaceful means," said Benita Ferrero-Waldner, EU external relations commissioner.

Palestinian PM says government will quit after Hamas win

It will be interesting to see how all the reverberations from this election development play out with respect to aid in the coming days.

Election of Hamas is peoples' mandate and as from now they are the Palestinian authority and the Government of Palestine. How they conduct their business is a matter for them. International community must respect peoples' madate and negotiate with the Government of the time as and when it takes over, instead of trying to generate questions about peace process by imposing pre-conditions.Result was unexpected but that's there now and Hamas are the ruling party. Once the peace process gets going and Hamas have the taste of power and experience of governance they may well decide to integrate their forces into the present security forces of Palestine which will solve problems automatically. Interests of peace will be served better by not trying to tell the Palestinian people what to do and what not to. Peace process must be allowed to take its natural course which for certain is not going to be totally smooth.

I haven't looked into it in great detail, but I wonder if Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza came about because Sharon foresaw an eventual Hamas election victory, and wanted to get Israel out of there in preparation for it. Perhaps so Israel could deal with Gaza as "enemy territory", knowing what Hamas was all about.