Israel Worried About Hamas Gaining Power in PA Election (INN-ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS) 05/03/05)
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Israel has begun to voice its concerns that the July legislative
council elections in the Palestinian Authority might sweep radical
Islamic terror organizations such as Hamas to power.
Israel, for the first time, is demanding that Hamas disarm before
taking part in the elections for the Palestinian legislative council.
Up until now, Israel has refrained from any involvement in the
upcoming elections for the legislative council, scheduled for this
July, and has mostly refrained from attempting to block Hamas’ entry
into electoral politics. But apprehension that Hamas might score big
gains or even attain a majority in the PA elections have brought
about an abrupt change in Israel’s approach.
Hamas and other Islamic terror groups such as Islamic Jihad are
dedicated to destroying the Jewish state and replacing it with a
radical Islamic regime.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, conveyed Israel’s position to visiting
U.S. Senators Bill Frist and Joseph Lieberman. “It is inconceivable
for an armed party to participate in the democratic process. From
there it is impossible to move onto the road map,” explained Sharon.
The issue was also raised by Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom in his
meeting on Monday with Turkish Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan,
who heads the Islamic party in Turkey. Shalom stressed that Hamas
cannot run candidates for the Palestinian parliament while operating
a military wing. “This is bad for everyone,” said Shalom.
Shalom expressed his worries that Hamas was on its way to becoming
another Hezbollah, a terror group supported by Syria and Iran, that
is intimately involved in Lebanese domestic politics. According to
the Jerusalem Post, he told Egyptian officials two weeks ago, “We
can’t allow it [Hamas] to run in the elections and retain an
independent military capability.”
Shalom reiterated his concerns to James Wolfensohn, economic envoy of
the Quartet (representing the U.S., Europe, Russia, and the U.N.)
that periodically makes mid-east mediation efforts. “If Hamas wants
to become a political party, it must disarm,” he said.
Israel is worried that if Hamas adopts the Hezbollah model, mixing
electoral politics with terror, the European Union might take the
group off its terror list, as it has done with the Hezbollah, because
it operates as a political party.
Another concern is that Hamas’ growing popularity among the PA
electorate will cause Fatah, a rival PLO faction headed by PA leader
Mahmoud Abbas to field more radical candidates, making compromise
with Israel ever more difficult.
Fatah currently controls two thirds of the PA council, but PA
officials are afraid that Hamas could severely reduce that majority,
if not eliminate it entirely. Hamas boycotted the previous PA
election held on 1996. Since the outbreak of the Oslo War in
September 2000, Hamas has gained in popularity, especially in the
Competition among the parties is expected regarding the extent of
their terrorist exploits during the Oslo War. One PLO faction, the
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) will be running
the murderer of Israeli tourist minister Rahavam Ze’evi as a
candidate. Ahmed Sa’adat, who killed Ze’evi in a Jerusalem hotel in
2003 has been imprisoned in a PA jail in Jericho, guarded by American
and British security officials, under an agreement with Israel.
While Israel would almost certainly prefer a Fatah victory, Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon found few kind words for chief Abbas in his
meeting with Senate Majority Leader, Bill Frist (Rebublican). “His
course is not the right one and contrary to the road map," he
said. "Instead of working to disarm the terror organizations, he is
working to strengthen them. He is not willing to fight them and is
not willing to dismantle their infrastructure."
According to the prime minister, "Abu Mazen is taking steps to
preserve the quiet, but is refraining completely from taking
significant steps against the terror organizations."
(IsraelNationalNews © 05/03/05)
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