January 21, 2007

Fatah could get the Palestinians' money and still lose an early election

There have been many reports now on Israel handing $100 million to Mahmood Abbas to help him outmaneuvre the elected Hamas government. Here's Ha'aretz:
Israel transferred $100 million to the Palestinian Authority on Friday. The funds are part of the Palestinian tax revenues that have been frozen since the Hamas-led government came to power in the PA.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised the fund transfer to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas last month, but it was delayed until a "Hamas bypass route" was devised.
Meanwhile Abbas has said that Hamas could still win an early election:
According to Abbas, if the latest round of unity government talks with Hamas fails, he will call early elections. Abbas acknowledged, however, that Hamas could emerge the victor once again.

"We say either there is a [unity] government or elections," he said after a meeting with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana in the West Bank city of Ramallah. "Elections don't mean we want to throw Hamas into the sea. It has been elected and can be elected again."
Now most commentators have put the initial victory of Hamas down to Israeli oppression or Fatah corruption or some combination of the two. Israel's handing of $100 million to Abbas to help him outflank Hamas is an example of both: Fatah taking money from Israel and Fatah using that money to thwart Palestinians' democratic choice. I'd say Hamas could well win elections on that basis.

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