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March 29, 2006
Palestinians Celebrate Likud Collapse

At least one group of people got enthusiastic about the Israeli elections:

Several officials in Ramallah expressed satisfaction with the results of Tuesday's election in Israel, especially the fact that the Likud Party had lost much of its power.

"We're happy to see that [Binyamin] Netanyahu has suffered a humiliating defeat," a top official told The Jerusalem Post. "We hope that Kadima and Labor will join forces to advance the peace process and end the conflict."

Apart from their schadenfreude at the woes of Netanyahu, the Palestinians didn't care who won the election, at least not publicly. Official after official quoted in the Jerusalem Post shrugged it off, claiming that all Israeli politicians are more alike than not. The officials, mostly Hamas but also PA president Mahmoud Abbas, warned Olmert about a unilateral implementation of his border plan, saying it would lead to chaos.

The Palestinians have the solution to that in their own hands. They need to live up to their existing agreements, recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce their goal of its destruction, and then they will have provided the basic framework for bilateral or multilateral efforts to end the conflict. Their intransigence on these points -- which effectively makes Israel itself a bargaining point for the Palestinians -- is what forced Sharon to simply act on his own without consultations with Abbas on Gaza, and will force Olmert to do the same with the West Bank.

The Palestinians may think that the Likud collapse has provided them with a victory. In reality, it has made them irrelevant. Without a realistic partner in peace, Israel will set her own borders and close off the West Bank, economically and politically isolating the Palestinians. If that is the Palestinian vision for the future, they have made great strides towards that goal by electing Hamas, and I wish them well in their poverty.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 29, 2006 6:25 AM

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