The United States and the European Unionfind themselves in an unexpected and difficult situation. Defending the democratic election process, they are now faced with a freely elected terrorist organization as the ruling party of the Palestinian people.
This month’s article will look at the current Palestinian elections, one in which the terror organization, Hamas, took a majority of seats in the Palestinian parliament. As a result of the elections, the West now has to deal with a duly elected “well run” terror organization.
On January 25, 2006, Palestinians shook their homeland, their region and the world by giving an outright victory in a parliamentary election to an organization which has publicly vowed to destroy the state of Israel. The final count gives Hamas 76 seats of the legislature’s 132 seats. By comparison, the former ruling Fatah secular movement, which dominated Palestinian politics since its inception 50 years ago, took 43 seats. Hamas are now able to control the parliament, including selecting the leader of the Palestinian people. To date, the leader of the Fatah movement, Mahmoud Abbas, remains the Palestinian president, but with the Hamas controlling the majority seats they are well within their right to select a new leader.
At a minimum, the Hamas are sure to demand key cabinet posts within the government. Posts such as health and public works will allow the Hamas to showcase its reputation for efficiency, clean hands and sharia law. Under sharia law, not only do dietary restrictions prevail, but so do all other aspects of Islamic law including severe punishments for minor crimes. In addition, Hamas is able to set policy, enact budgets and determine taxes.
In the run up to the election, despite the surprisingly moderate statements from several of its leaders, the official position of the Hamas was a call for the destruction of Israel.
Beginning to flex their democratic muscle
A February 9, 2006, article in the New York Times indicated that: “A Hamas leader, Khaled Meshal, warned the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, on Wednesday not to revamp the Palestinian Authority or make cabinet appointments without Hamas’s approval.”
The New York Times continued to report that: “among the many differences to be settled is the control of the security forces and the use of violence. Mr. Meshal promised Wednesday that his group would not lay down its weapons when it took over the government. ‘Hamas will rule and continue resistance, and the people will see how we can reconcile resistance and the exercise of power,’ he said.”
The contrast between the elected Hamas organization and the currently recognized Fatah is stark. Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas opposes attacks against Israel and says he wants to pursue peace talks. He has called on Hamas to honor all existing agreements between the authority and Israel. In contrast, Hamas has staged the deadliest attacks against Israel, though it has largely abided by a truce for the last year. Mr. Abbas and the new government will both have responsibility for the security forces, but how those powers will be divided is unknown.
Currently, the United States, Europe and wealthy Arab countries supply more than $1 billion to the Palestinian authority. For the time being they have agreed to keep supplying money at least until a Hamas-led government takes power, but the United States and the major European nations say such aid will not be possible if Hamas does not change its ways.
A strange twist
It is interesting to note that the first government to formally invite the Hamas leader to a meeting was Russian President Vladimir Putin. As one might expect, the invitation brought a frank and aggressive response from Israel. As reported in the New York Times: “It’s not just a slap in the face to Israel. It’s a slap in the face to Western countries,” said one Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity because talks with Russia were going on. The official said the government was “waiting for an explanation” from Russia’s ambassador in Israel.
But Russian Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov defended Russia’s offer of talks with Hamas. “Hamas is in power, this is a fact, and secondly, it came to power as a result of free democratic elections,” Ivanov told reporters at a NATO-Russia meeting in Italy. He said Moscow was not happy with all of Hamas’s policies, but predicted the West had no choice but to deal with it.
It can only be concluded that God’s hand is involved in seeing that an organization seeking the demise of the state of Israel would be elected with a majority, and that Russia would be the first nation to welcome the new situation. We continue to watch with intense interest as events unfold leading to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.