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January 26, 2006

Hamas Claims Victory As Palestinian Premier Resigns - So What's Next? (Updated)

Topics: Middle East News and Perspectives

Add another monkey wrench into the Middle East peace process, now that Hamas, an Islamic group that has thwarted Middle East peace efforts with squads of suicide bombers, will be forming the Palestinian Authority's next government.

One caveat is that Hamas appears to be interested in forming a partnership with Fatah rather than governing by itself - which can't be much comfort for peace-loving residents of the Middle East, especially in Israel, since what we now have in effect is two, not one, terrorist organizations in control of a area of land with a group of people that have never been much for peace, tolerance, and non-violence. However, no sooner did the word of Hamas being interested in forming a partnership with Al-Fatah, than Al-Fatah turned right around and announced that it would not take part in a coalition government led by HAMAS (but look for this typical Middle Eastern tactic to be more negotiating strategy than resolute decision).

Earlier this week, President Bush rejected the possibility of diplomatic talks with Hamas before the organization cancels its calls to destroy Israel, so at least one opinionist says that "Hamas wins; America loses - Hamas victory shows American-imposed democracy can backfire." Following the elections, former Israeli foreign minister Silvan Shalom says that the Hamas elections victory is 'an earthquake,' adds that the HAMAS win 'sets us back 50 years'. World leaders are apparently uneasy at the prospect of a Hamas-led Palestinian government, and have immediately exerted pressure on the Islamic militants/suicide-bombing/terrorist thugs (my words, not theirs) to recognize Israel and renounce violence as a precondition for ties. This comes as the Arab League Secretary-General Amr Mousa says that Israel should carry on peace talks even though the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS) takes part in the new Palestinian government - in other words, just pretend that the people that Israel is to deal with aren't the lying, murdering, Islamists that they are, and be nice to them. And as one would expect, a hardline Indonesian Muslim group, the Indonesian Mujahiddin Council (MMI), an umbrella organization for groups seeking to impose Islamic law in Indonesia, hailed the HAMAS victory, after all, Islamofascists love other Islamofascists.

Unexpectedly, for me at least, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, commenting on Hamas's win in Palestinian parliamentary elections, actually muttered something useful and said on Thursday that any group wanting to take part in democratic politics should disarm.

So just where does all of this and the HAMAS victory lead us from here?

Here are two big clues:

A senior Hamas official said on Thursday that recognizing Israel and negotiations with the Jewish state is not on their agenda. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said: "Israel can't accept a situation in which Hamas, in its present form as a terror group calling for the destruction of Israel, will be part of the Palestinian Authority without disarming. I won't hold negotiations with a government that does not stick to its most basic obligation of fighting terror."
It looks like all hell is going to break loose in the Middle East. To everything we've spoken of and linked to here, add the fact that Iran and Syria support and have recently met with 10 radical Palestinian movements including Islamic Jihad and Hamas.

As summarized in the world reaction to the Hamas victory: 'Fasten your seatbelts'. But we can always hope that Arab commentators are right when they say that Israel and the United States will eventually adapt to the reality of an electoral victory by the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, opening new opportunities for Middle East peace talks.

At the end of the day, I'm not willing to bet on it. If you wonder why, read a "History of Hamas' Murderous Attacks."

1/26/2006 7:00:00 PM GMT Update from AlJazeera: Palestinian cabinet quits after Hamas' election victory

The CounterTerrorism Blog also has a "Summary of News & Opinions on Hamas Victory."
Israelis pessimistic about peace prospects
Ahmadinejad's Little Trip To Syria
The Ascendancy of Ancient Philistia

Other related: As the international community recovered from the shock victory of militant group Hamas in the Palestinian elections, analysts, experts and Middle East watchers are struggling to provide explanations for the surprise result and on what may happen next.

Posted by Richard at January 26, 2006 10:09 AM

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