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Israel Worried About Hamas Gaining Power in PA Election (INN-ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS) 05/03/05)Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/news.php3?id=81287 INN} ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS INN} ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
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 Gaza district.

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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