by

Here we go again.
First, I’m not sure why the current administrations insists that there’s a
difference between Hamas and Fatah.
Secondly, I believe we have an obligation to let the chips fall where they
may.
Our current administration and State Department insisted things play the way
they have, and now it’s time for everybody to sleep for a while in the bed
they’ve made for themselves and the citizens of Israel.
khaled abu toameh and jpost staff
THE JERUSALEM POST
Jan. 21, 2006

The Bush Administration has been investing in the image of the
Palestinian Authority ahead of the January 25 PA parliamentary
elections, in which PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party runs the
risk of being edged out of power by Hamas in the first Palestinian
election in over a decade, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

The American initiative hopes to ensure that the PA receives
recognition for a number of popular projects.
The US government, however, is keeping a comparatively low profile in
the $2 million initiative headed by the Agency for International
Development. No official government logos appear during projects and
events.

Sources within Israel’s defense establishment said Sunday morning
that they believe that Hamas will win the upcoming elections and form
the next coalition.

Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will call a special security
discussion on Sunday to discuss the upcoming elections and the
implications of their results for Israel.

The main questions that will be addressed during the discussion were
how Israel would respond to a Hamas-dominated government and if
negotiation or other diplomatic contacts would be interpreted by the
global community as de-facto recognition of the organization’s
legitimacy.

The head of the Defense Ministry’s military/political policy bureau,
Amos Gilad, said in an interview with Army Radio Sunday morning that
he believes that Hamas will refuse to disarm and will continue their
fight against Israel even after the elections.

“Hamas will not give up on terror,” Gilad said. “It will not give up
on the strategic endpoint that Israel has no right to exist. They
even have said publicly that they will not agree to any process in
which the terror network is broken-up.”

Gilad’s appraisal of Hamas was backed-up by comments made Sunday by
Ismail Haniya, the top candidate on the Hamas list for Palestinian
parliamentary elections. Haniya said that Hamas supports only as a
temporary solution the establishment of a Palestinian states along
the 1967 borders and with Jerusalem as its capital.

Haniya emphasized that Hamas does not recognize the existence of the
State of Israel and maintains its vision of establishing a
Palestinian state throughout all of the area west of the Jordan
River.

He also reiterated that there is no chance that Hamas would
voluntarily disarm as long as Israel exists.

With the threat of Hamas gaining a small majority, scores of
Fatah-affiliated candidates who are running as independents in the
January 25 elections are under heavy pressure to drop out of the race
to enhance the ruling party’s prospects of winning the vote.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas personally phoned many
candidates over the past few days to urge them to quit and to back
Fatah’s official list. At least five candidates who were running on
independent tickets have agreed to withdraw their candidacy.

“The issue of independent candidates poses a real problem for Fatah,”
said PA Information Minister Nabil Shaath. “The votes of the Fatah
supporters will be wasted unless they drop out of the race. These
candidates are making a big mistake that is being added to previous
mistakes.”

Shaath urged the independent candidates to withdraw their candidacy
and to stand behind Fatah. He said those who refuse to comply would
be dismissed from the party after the election.

Ahmed Ghnaim, a top Fatah official from Jerusalem, said the issue of
independent candidates should be resolved within 24 hours. “There’s a
real battle between Fatah and Hamas and we urge all Fatah candidates
running independently to pull out of the race and to back our
official list,” he said.

A public opinion poll published over the weekend put Fatah and its
rival Hamas movement in a statistical dead heat. The poll, which was
conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center, found
that 36.7 percent of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip support Fatah
and 36.4% support Hamas, while in the West Bank Fatah showed a
slightly larger margin with 29.7% as compared to 26.6% for Hamas.

When combining the results of the survey in the Gaza Strip and the
West Bank, Fatah enjoys the support of 32.3% compared to 30.2% for
Hamas. The poll also showed that 81.4% of the eligible voters intend
to participate in the voting process. The survey was conducted
between January 13-15, and involved a random sample of 1001 residents
over the age of 18.

Another poll, conducted by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for
Policy and Survey Research, gave Fatah 42% of the votes as opposed to
35% for Hamas. The poll covered 4,516 voters (of which 2,974 came
from the West Bank and 1,542 from the Gaza Strip).

Thousands of members of the PA security forces began voting on
Saturday for the parliamentary election. The voting will last until
Monday, after which the security forces will be deployed to prevent
violence on the day of elections.

Among those who voted on Saturday were several Fatah militiamen who
had been recruited to the security forces. One of them, Zakariya
Zubeidi, commander of Fatah’s armed wing in Jenin, said he voted for
Fatah.

The PA Central Election Commission said that 58,705 Palestinian
security personnel and police are expected to participate in the
voting. It said that the security personnel and police in 17
constituencies would vote in 27 polling stations in the Gaza Strip
and 33 in the West Bank.

Tawfik Abu Khoussah, spokesman for the PA Interior Ministry, denied
allegations that the security forces had been ordered to vote for
Fatah.

Abbas suggested on Friday that he would like a government of national
unity to emerge from the upcoming legislative elections. He said the
group that wins the most votes on Wednesday would form the new
cabinet.

“I call on all the Palestinian political parties to join forming the
new Palestinian cabinet that will be formed after the election,” he
told the independent Palestinian news network Ma’an News.

AP contributed to this report.

————–
This article can also be read at:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=37605883065&pagename==JPost%2FJP
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