There is no doubt that the recent legislative council elections is an electoral coup in Palestine. Due to the nature of this coup, and because of the current conditions at the regional and international level, it will be extremely difficult to complete this step and move with it to its natural result where Hamas can assume the responsibility — alone — and form the next Palestinian government.
The Palestinian legislative council elections cannot be isolated from its surrounding and the elections were not held in a sovereign state, but were conducted under a national authority with incomplete sovereignty besieged by the occupation with its territories torn apart and disconnected. It is the same authority that was established in 1994 when the majority of the Palestinian factions, including Hamas, refused then to participate in it and refused to participate in the elections of its legislative council in 1996 under the pretext that this is an authority under occupation and that this authority is governed by conceding agreements and commitments that made a big damage on the rights of the Palestinian people and closed the door in front of the process towards liberation and independence. This was said ten years ago without taking into consideration the nature of the struggle against occupation and its outcomes in terms of small steps and forms of resistance that benefit from the relative achievements imposed by the above mentioned agreements and commitments, including the establishment of the PNA and the return of the PLO Leadership from abroad despite all restrictions imposed on it. This return to the homeland led to the start of a transformation in the Palestinian political system when the center and major weight of Palestinian action moved to the Palestinian territories, thus placing the Palestinian leadership for the first time face to face with its masses and in direct political and social and economical responsibility about the people, exposing it to criticism and accountability.
However, this process in the past ten years was affected by a series of factors, namely the intensity of the conflict with the occupation, especially in this current Intifada and the growing popularity of Hamas movement which did become a real and effective competitor with Fatah movement, and of course these developments were affected negatively by Fatah monopolizing and abusing the authority and in the absence of any form of political or social cooperation especially with the leftist and democratic forces that can replace the state of monopolizing the decision making process.
It should be noted within the same context that the need to contain and absorb the state of internal distress and the bad economic conditions and the spread of unemployment led to the launching of the policy of "political employment" of cadres and members of the ruling party in order to reinforce the bases of the authority, thus creating a state of poor performance and favoritism and stalemate which made matters even worse.
By the time, the crisis inside Fatah movement escalated and the state of insecurity and chaos expanded. Matters in the eyes of the ordinary citizen were moving in a difficult process that couldn’t be rectified or reformed except through replacing the old tools and the unsuccessful methods and approach. Therefore, January 25, 2006 was the big day in which the people decided through the ballot boxes to change their leadership and to elect Hamas as the party enjoying a majority of the Palestinian Legislative Council seats.
In any case, it is naïve to say that taking the current Palestinian internal state into a better state can be done through conducting elections only! Or through electing Hamas movement instead of Fatah movement to assume power. This electoral shift will remain incomplete and limited if there is no support by a set of factors, mainly finding a kind of "mutual concession" through seeing Fatah movement retreating from its previous trends and practices and giving the Palestinian legitimate institutions their due importance and consideration, starting with the PLO institutions and through having Hamas join the Palestinian political system and through finding a formula that can enable it to respond to the national consensus program realized by the Declaration of Independence and the international legitimacy resolutions. The recent statements made by Hamas leaders gave the impression that it will participate in the PNA and in the government, but to the extent that it allows it not to hold any contact or direct negotiations with Israel, and that Hamas will seek to offer the minimum extent of commitments that accompany such a participation. This position was and still expressed through showing readiness to a long term truce and to accept the transitional or long interim solution! But the "division of functions" formula that Hamas poses between those who negotiate and hold contacts with the Israelis and those who assume the other affairs is not an adequate formula and lacks any political basis, and will jost probably be rejected by the potential partners in the next government, including Fatah. Therefore, Hamas’ participation in the PNA necesetate the answering of several questions, namely how it can match between its declared political program that made it win the majority of the PLC seats and the reality of the PNA and its commitments and the agreements that have been signed. Moreover, large sectors of the Palestinian people are much concerned regarding Hamas social program, especially in the area of freedom of expression and the status of women and personal liberties and rights of the individuals and other matters.
In conclusion, we totally reject all forms of interference in the Palestinian internal affairs and the American and Israeli pressure exerted on our people at the political and economic levels. We also oppose the oppressive international campaign against Hamas and which at the same time ignores Israel and which does not demand from Israel to end its occupation and recognize the national and legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. On the other hand, the question that remains to be posed is to what extent is Hamas ready to meet with the national consensus program ratified by the PLO! This takes us back to the "mutual concession" formula through common national denominators that should be found to strengthen the internal front, in order to overcome the current crisis and that can prevent going into a state of split, conflict and chaos that will be against the interests of everybody. Thus, we are waiting the answers from Hamas to see if it can agree with the current national consensus formula.
* Hanna Amireh is member of the PLO Executive Committee and member of the Palestinian People’s Party Politburo.