Thursday, January 26, 2006

Hamas Comes To Power

The militant Islamic group Hamas has swept the Palestinian elections:

Islamic militant group Hamas has won a surprise victory in Wednesday's Palestinian parliamentary elections. According to preliminary results, Hamas won 76 seats to 43 for the ruling Fatah party, giving them a majority in the 132-seat chamber. The turnout was 77%.

PM Ahmed Qurei has offered to resign, and Fatah has said it will not join Hamas in government.The Hamas win will pose a great dilemma for international efforts to restart peace talks with Israel, say analysts.

No kidding. It's hard to talk peace with someone when their entire agenda is based on a hatred of your country. Peace talks with Israel will be all but extinct with Hamas in power:

Another Hamas official, Mushir al-Masri, warned that Hamas would not hold peace talks with Israel.

"Negotiations with Israel is not on our agenda," he said.

"Recognising Israel is not on the agenda either now."

I'm pretty sure neither negotiations nor recognising Israel as a sovereign nation will ever be on Hamas' agenda.

Speaking to the White House press corps today, President Bush offered this response to Hamas' statements about Israel:

If your platform is the destruction of Israel, then you're not a partner in peace, and we want peace. The United States does not support parties that support the destruction of our ally, Israel.

President Bush also urged Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to stay in power. If Abbas decides to resign, he'll effectively be giving over the government to Hamas. Despite the Hamas majority, Abbas' presence could still have an influence on policy, however slight it may be. But with Abbas gone, Hamas can pretty much run the show however they like.

The next few weeks will be one of the most crucial periods in recent history for the Middle Eastern peace process, and may shape the situation for years to come.