Yesterday, the Palestinian populace had parliamentary elections, and the Hamas party won a ton of seats. The NYPost cover today screams, “HAMASTAN,” and predicts a Taliban-like state of religious oppression will take over the Palestinian territories.
I don’t think that’s going to happen, mainly because I don’t think the vote was an overwhelming endorsement of Hamas so much as it was an overwhelming condemnation of Fatah. In addition, I think Hamas will have its hands full trying to actually administer the government. If branches of it actively try to launch attacks on Israel, reprisals can be much fiercer, now that its leaders have to be politically accountable.
There’s a good post at the Volokh Conspiracy that mirrors some of my sentiments about the vote. It reminds me of the post I wrote a while ago about Hezbollah condemning the first video’d-beheading in Iraq; Hezbollah’s still a terrorist organization, but it’s also tied into the social structure of Lebanon in a way that demands it do respectable things. The party got a good number of votes in the Lebanese elections, but that also means that it can be voted out (provided the government doesn’t suspend elections and revert to strong-arm tactics).
Now, one of my simplistic takes on Arafat was that he benefited from not having peace, because it’s a lot easier to be a warrior-hero than it is to administer a state. It’s like hot-button topics in politics (think abortion): if the issues were reconciled, then fundraisers wouldn’t be able to scare up contributions.
Similarly, now that Hamas has to take responsibility for running things, they’re going to have to deal with issues of unemployment and infrastructure without making a first resort of suicide bombing (admittedly, that would cut down unemployment numbers. . .)