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June 4, 2005
Another Great Moment In Palestinian Democracy

The London Telegraph reports this morning that Mahmoud Abbas has suspended parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territories, an unsurprising move considering the popularity of the Hamas opposition in comparison to Abbas' Fatah faction:

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has decided to postpone parliamentary elections which had been planned for next month.

The widely-expected move has been criticised by Hamas, the militant group, which said it stemmed from fears it would do well at the ballot box.

Mr Abbas said he had decided to postpone the July 17 poll to allow time to resolve a dispute over proposed reforms to the voting law. He gave no new date for the election.

The delay could stoke tensions between Abbas's Fatah faction and Hamas, which had been poised to make a strong showing in its first legislative campaign.

Hamas had reacted to earlier hints of a delay by accusing Fatah of manoeuvring to cling to power.

Ever since Abbas' own suspicious election as President, in which he ran virtually unopposed and still the election rules changed halfway through the day to boost his numbers, the election results have been disappointing for Fatah. Local elections proved that Abbas has little real mandate from the people, and parliamentary elections would have likely put the terrorist group in control of the Legislature, setting up a power struggle that Abbas had small chance of surviving, politically and literally.

Instead, Abbas now follows the Arafat option. His predecessor held an election after Oslo to mollify the Western nations and fool them into thinking he had transformed himself into a democrat and a statesman. As soon as the aid began to flow, the elections stopped. Abbas may have more commitment to elections, in part because he doesn't enjoy the near-mythic status that Arafat did among the Palestinians, but this suspension shows that his commitment to democracy has its limits -- and retaining power is his top priority.

Elections in Palestine won't make much difference in the peace process as long as the two parties both consist of terrorists. Pitting Fatah against Hamas in a two-party system means choosing between practical terrorists or fanatical terrorists. The former is truly the lesser of the two evils, but neither represents progress. The inclination of the Palestinian people to freely choose the latter, as even Abbas now concedes, shows that not only are the Palestinians not ready for a sovereign state of their own, but that the peace process is a sham and the cease-fire hopelessly doomed.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 4, 2005 8:22 AM

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