With the election results yesterday in the Palestinian Authority, Arafatistan frankly joins the Axis. The Jerusalem Post reports: “Mashal calls Abbas to inquire about partnership.” Post editor David Horovitz describes the outcome as an “earthquake,” writing: “The era of Fatah is over. The Islamists are in control.” Horovitz properly counsels against wishful thinking or the loss of clarity about the fundamental nature of Hamas:
Some may seek comfort in the belief that an ascent to government could prompt a greater sense of responsibility, a move to moderation. But Hamas’s intolerance is based on a perceived religious imperative. No believing Muslim, in the Hamas conception, can be reconciled to Jewish sovereignty in the Middle East. To deny that, for Hamas, is blasphemy.
And that is the ideology to which the Palestinian people, for whatever reason and by their own free hand, have just tied their fate. That is the guiding ideology with which Israel and the West will now have to grapple.
PAUL adds: No one should be surprised by the results of this election. The Palestinian people remain committed to the destruction of Israel and, failing that, to subjecting Israelis to an unrelenting campaign of terror. In this election, Fatah represented a trimming back of these aspirations; Hamas represented their affirmation. If the key issue had been Fatah corruption, Hamas would have downplayed any differences between the two organizations with respect to relations with Israel. It did not.
Israel brought about the downfall of Fatah by marginalizing Arafat and forcing his successor into an accommodationist mode. Now it will have to prove that Hamas can’t succeed against Israel where Fatah failed. For starters, Israel must select a leader who understands what needs to be done. The first test should be the extent to which the various candidates demonstrate their recognition of what yesterday’s election means.
UPDATE: In an excellent column for the Ottawa Citizen, Barry Rubin writes: “Hamas won’t change its stripes.” (Thanks to reader Malcolm Smordin.)