S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Palestinian elections today

How to get along? Folks all over the Middle East are having to learn to come to the well together. The futures of all the countries in the area are deeply connected. (see BBC title link to a comprehensive in-depth section on the Middle East). And the United States cannot control what happens there. And the Bush Administration has not been able to control the outcomes in quite some time. Nor can the European Union. We all are forced to sit back and watch it unfold. (We did put a little campaign money into today's election in Palestine, but more on that later).
Democracy vs. something else: Self government has a fragile hold in Palestine. Israel has a leadership crisis. Iraq is working on forming their first permanent government in decades. Iran is trying to become a nuclear power. And Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia will play vital parts in a region that is one of the most fascinating in the world. But it is the two old arch enemies, Israel and Palestine that are most in focus these days because of their elections.

Coalition building: The two main parties in Palestine may have to form a new coalition government if neither wins a clear majority in today's long awaited parliamentary election. The Middle East and West look towards the results with both hope and concern.
Palestinians cast ballots Wednesday in their first parliamentary election in a decade - a cliffhanger vote on whether to pursue peace or confrontation with Israel. The battle between the ruling Fatah Party and its Islamic Hamas rival was sure to tilt the balance of a Middle East torn between reform and traditionalism. But concerns over lawlessness, corruption and unemployment also weighed on voters' minds. Both Hamas and Fatah were confident of victory, but pollsters said the race was too close to call. Despite the bitter rivalry, both parties said they would consider a coalition if no clear victor emerges.
Leadership crisis: Israel has an election coming up before very long, in which one new and two old parties will contest with each other. Ailing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had just formed the new party when he was struck down with a severe stroke. What Israel does, of course affects Palestine. Acting Israeli Prime Minister Olmert now has announced that there will be a drawing back in the West Bank. According to the BBC,
Israel will have to withdraw from further parts of the West Bank, acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said. In his first policy speech as interim leader, he said the main challenge ahead was to shape Israel's borders for good to ensure a Jewish majority. It could not continue to control parts with a Palestinian majority, but would keep its main settlements, he said.

Influence peddling: The U.S has made efforts to influence the Palestinian election. Quoting from the Washington Post,
The Bush administration's effort to increase the popularity of the Palestinian Authority and its governing Fatah party before critical parliamentary elections this week came under intense criticism Monday from a number of candidates, some of whom charged that the program amounted to illegal interference in the democratic process. The program calls for funding Palestinian Authority events and projects and announcing those projects in the days before the vote. . . The effort has been coordinated through the chief of staff of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president and leader of Fatah.

Is peace to be or not to be? Many of us would have preferred that the United States not interfere in the affairs of any countries in the Middle East. But we have done so for over half a century. Nowhere on earth are we more involved, not even Europe. And we have not been able to control the outcomes of our neocons' interference. No wonder our enemies in the region just want us out. But that is not going to happen anytime soon. Amazingly the ballot box is beyond our control. Free will or fate is what controls the outcomes with democracy. Eventually we will all have to learn to come to the well together.
References from previous posts:
  1. "Directions in the Middle East" - January 5, 2006
  2. "The Middle East Peace Process-at a Critical Point" - August 10, 2005
My "creative" post today at Southwest Blogger is about drought in cities and the country.


Anonymous said...

You may be interested to see this analysis here on Publius Pundit, as well as the election coverage here on Vital Perspective.

Carol Gee said...

Sorry I am late in my reply. This website has been down, as you may be aware. Thanks for the references.