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.