March 26, 2006

Israeli elections: the other side of the wall

Here's an article by Yoav Peled from the Middle East Report Online* on the issues facing whoever wins the Israeli elections on 28/3. It details the various interests at play restricting the expected victor, Ehud Olmert's freedom of action and concludes by suggesting what Hamas might be forced to do.
Viewed from the other side of the wall, the main card that Hamas holds against Israel’s punitive measures, and any measures the West may impose, is its ability to declare the PA null and void for reasons of financial bankruptcy. Such a declaration will put Israel in a position of again being directly responsible for the lives of the Palestinians in occupied territory, as it was before the Oslo accords. Since April 2002, the PA has been a sham anyway, functioning as Israel’s subcontractor for running basic services for the Palestinians, such as they are, and enabling the “international community” to pretend that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a conflict between two autonomous political entities. If the PA ceases to exist, the true nature of the relations between Israel and the Palestinians as occupier and occupied will reemerge, and Israel will no longer enjoy the privilege of having all the power over the Palestinians without any responsibility for their wellbeing. The downside for the Palestinians, of course, will be the loss of international economic assistance that makes up much of their national income and translates into salaries that sustain a great portion of the Palestinian population. But the Palestinians pay a heavy political price for this money, and if Hamas is indeed as incorruptible as it claims, it may decide that the advantages of putting an end to the charade called the PA outweigh the costs. Given the Palestinians’ economic and military weakness, upsetting the applecart in this manner may be the only way forward open to them as the dual war initiated by Ariel Sharon marches on even in his absence.
*The Middle East Research and Information Project is is online here.

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