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20 September 2010


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Amazing. The idea of a referendum determining the political fate of all peoples in the Palestine/Israel territory is a cornerstone of President Ahmadinejad's proposed solution on the matter of Arab-Israeli peace.

Are you aware of this? He's been proposing this for years now.


Can the Palestinians conduct a free and fair election?


Welcome to Empty Vessel Days, then. The entire thing is a joke. Abbas and Fayyad have no authority to speak for the Palestinians.


Pat, how do you imagine a Palestinian referendum? Is it possible that they vote in favor of an agreement in Gaza and still want to keep Hamas? Wouldn't most Palestinians vote for anything that regained them land and the right of return?
I get that this is an end run around Bibi's hard right opponents. It just seems like adding one more hurdle to an already bottlenecked process (Jerusalem; 67 borders; settlements; right of return).


I think it's a great idea. Both sets of leaders get political cover. If their people don't want the deal they negotiate, then any deal would collapse anyway.



Can the Palestinians conduct a free and fair election?
...and expect whoever they elect to be accepted as their representative by the US and the Israelis? And that Israel doesn't arrest or assassinates candidates it deems to be radical or terrorists (or too moderate for that matter)? I doubt it.



The election in question is about the acceptance or rejection of a peace agreement. I should probably have said vote of ratification.

Whatever wrongs have been committed upon the Palestinians do not absolve them of the wrongs they have committed against each other:

After the re-ignition of the Fatah-Hamas conflict on June 10, Hamas militants seized several Fatah members and threw one of them, Mohammed Sweirki, an officer in the elite Palestinian Presidential Guard, off the top of the tallest building in Gaza, a 15-story apartment building. In retaliation, Fatah militants attacked and killed the imam of the city's Great Mosque, Mohammed al-Rifati. They also opened fire on the home of Prime Minister Ismail Haniya. Just before midnight, a Hamas militant was thrown off a 12-story building.,[14]article in Haaretz

The Palestian election law coupled with strategic political mistakes by Fatah allowed Hamas attain a majority of the seat s in the PLC with only about 45 percent of the the vote. When there is a high degree of conflict in a society such a government is probably inherently unstable.

Since Hamas' idea of persuasion remains force -- witness the blowing up of the UN facilities for summer camps for children in the hope of persuading parents to send their kids to the local equivalent of madrassas -- it is a legitimate practical question as to whether a free and fair vote on ratification could be held either in Gaza or the West Bank.


you sure it was Hamas?

They would be utterly disingenuous to have done that. Because the UN camp competed with Hamas summer camp? Implausible.

Hamas made arrests in the aftermath of the attack on the camp.

Instead of assuming that Hamas attacked the UN compound because they competed with Hamas summer camp, it is IMO more probable that the culprit was one of Hamas competitors in Gaza.

Hamas' comparably nationalist Islam is routinely being denounced by (pan-Islamic) Salafists.

Hamas is currently being challenged in Gaza by Salafist groups.

My hunch says that Salafists are more likely as a culprit - the attack underlines their claim to uphold morality, which they do better than Hamas allowing for such vices as a summer camp where boys and girls mingle.

This challenge to Hamas from the religious ultra right is a troubling development as it suggests what the result will be when Israel continues to wreck Gaza further and destroys Hamas. In the absence of a solution Israelis will breed simply another generation of resistance which may well be led by utterly irreconcilable Salafists compared to whom Hamas are pragmatic moderates.

Not in Israel's interest. Or is it? After all, one cannot deal with an irreconcilable enemy, so there sis no choice but expulsion?

While Palestinians have sure don their part - they are notorious for internecine rivalry - the Israelis have done their part. In particular they have always preferred the Palestinians divided and regularly intervened in Palestinian politics (for instance by assassinating or arresting leaders). The Palestinians don't exist in a vacuum.


CP is most probably right on who attacked the children's camp. My memory was at fault and I probably exaggerate the degree of control Hamas has in Gaza. Here is a link to the NYT story I was thinking of:
authorities, who run Gaza, condemned the incident and said an investigation had been opened. Islamic extremist groups in Gaza have said in the past that the Relief and Works Agency, the main arm of the United Nations operating in Gaza, was a corrupting influence on local children for introducing activities they consider at odds with conservative Islamic customs.


My google search strongly suggests to me that it's probably not your memory. To the contrary.

The narrative that Hamas was it, and that they attacked the UN camp because it competed with Hamas summer camp, was utterly prevalent among the pro-Israeli outlets and writers.


CP: Did the New York Times cover the arrests? I've searched but not found anything.

At the time, my assumption was that Hamas was searching for the perpetrators with about the same diligence that ISI had been controlling Islamists.


If I recall rightly the NYT reported along the lines of Hamas summer camp vs. UN summer camp, so no, I don't think they reported on the arrests. I can't know, however, as I am not a regular reader of the NYT. Maybe there was a report, like a five liner on page 235x, right at the bottom of the page?

I would assume that if it was indeed Salafists, considering Hamas dependence on UN support, Hamas would indeed be very keen to go after the culprits.

They have done so in the case of rocket firings by Salafist groups (not that that would have prevented Israel from going after Hamas anyway). The rivalry between the two groups is apparently a serious matter to both. The ban on women using hookahs in Gaza is also best understood if seen in the light of the Salafist challenge to Hamas.

Considering what is at stake for Hamas it is unreasonable to assume that they do not crack down on the Salafists with zeal.


"The Palestian election law coupled with strategic political mistakes by Fatah allowed Hamas attain a majority of the seat s in the PLC with only about 45 percent of the the vote."

So you are not happy with the outcome, even though 45% of the vote supported Hamas? That's a bigger proportion of the vote than the current PM of Isreal recieved. My, my....


"When there is a high degree of conflict in a society such a government is probably inherently unstable." I think this also describes the current Isreali government.

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