Caroline Glick, in the Jerusalem Post, provides what I think is a persuasive analysis of the Palestinian elections. She attributes the Hamas victory mainly to two developments — Arafat’s death and Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria:
Arafat’s death left Fatah without a charismatic, popular leader able to rally Palestinian society behind him and his party. Israel’s decision to withdraw from Gaza and northern Samaria without first reaching a peace accord with the Palestinians gave credence to Hamas’s view that there is nothing to be gained by recognizing Israel’s right to exist, even on the declarative level.
Glick argues, as I have, that Israel must make no further concessions – either diplomatic or territorial – towards the Palestinians. She agrees with Likud party leader Binyamin Netanyahu and former IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya’alon that
Israel’s influence on its enemies stems from its ability to deter them from attacking. That deterrence was weakened by Israel’s retreat from Gaza and northern Samaria. Israel must now work to regain its deterrent credibility. Israel’s deterrent powers can only be rehabilitated by a stubborn, uncompromising campaign against Palestinian terror infrastructures and chains of command. Such a continuous campaign is the only way to make the Palestinians realize that they have nothing to gain by continuing their war against Israel. The Palestinians’ internalization of the understanding that pursuing their war against Israel will bring them no advantage is the necessary precondition for any future peace.
The Palestinian people have made their choice, and now the Israelis must make theirs. Everything depends, in Glick’s words, on their “willingness to choose leaders capable of accepting the realities [they] face and acting accordingly.”