I’ve been watching the democratic elections in Palestine (or, among Palestinians, for those who can’t accept that Palestine is a place), not sure what to say. Now the elections are over and Hamas has won. One of the risks of democracy is that the people will choose something that the neighbors don’t like. But the elections appear to have been open and fair. So it also appears that the majority of Palestinian voters prefer a more aggressive stance in politics vis-vis Israel. What does this mean to expats in the Middle East? Maybe nothing different. Probably an increase in tension.
Up until now, the PLO was the group that seemed to speak for the Palestinians because there was no other voice anywhere near to speaking about peace through diplomacy. Now that the Palestinians have expressed themselves through democratic means and have chosen a harder line as their official face, their voice and will had better be respeected, or sparks will fly. It is nonsense for Israel to say that they won’t deal with Hamas when Hamas is the popularly elected party of the people. They might as well say, “We refuse to deal with our neighbors as they are, and demand that they change.” By all rights, the Palestinians could say the same, and the stalemate would continue. But it isn’t a stalemate, is it? Israel is the occupying force and exercises its will as fully as international opinion will allow.
But I’m off topic. Watch for more on this issue in another entry as I try to put this into context. For the moment, I invite comment from expats in that region. Personally, I expect Hamas to come out swinging (words, and maybe a few bullets) because of the mandate they got in the elections, and then to be put in their place by Israel, to be followed by increased internal discontent, followed by international heat, followed by increased attacks on Israelis by Palestinians, followed by more “they hate Islam” type attacks elsewhere, followed by… You get the idea. If Israel won’t give the new Palestinian representatives a place at the bargaining table, and a few concessions toward self-government, they are knowingly and deliberately inviting mayhem.