Sir: John R. Bradley writes, in support of his argument that free elections in Arab countries are likely to bring Islamists to power (‘Arabian nightmare’, 26 February): ‘Democracy came to Gaza and the Islamist group Hamas took power.’ He fails to consider the background to Hamas’s victory in the Palestinian generalThere's no link to the letters page for non-subscribers so this is from Just Peace UK.
election of 2006 and subsequent takeover of Gaza.
In 1996, the Palestinians’ first general election was won overwhelmingly by Fatah. It is true that Hamas refused to participate, but the high turnout and vote for Fatah indicate that Hamas would have done poorly, at a time when Palestinians believed they were going to gain their own state. Ten years later,
when hope for that state had been eroded, the Palestinian vote for Hamas was the result of despair and defiance — against Fatah for its corruption and the failure of its negotiating strategy, against the US for being a dishonest broker, against the EU for being craven, and most of all against Israel for
being unwilling to lift the yoke of occupation and settlement.
Hamas subsequently took power — in so far as being under siege and occupation constitutes power — in Gaza after a civil war, in order to pre-empt an undemocratic coup that was about to be mounted by Fatah, backed by the United States.
Executive, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, London E5
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