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Palestinian Parliamentary Elections: The Hamas Victory

An Israeli anarchist communist briefly examines the results of the elections to the Palestinian parliament which saw the defeat of the previous majority party, Fatah, in favour of the fundamentalist Hamas, running under the name of "Change and Reform".


Palestinian Parliamentary Elections: The Hamas Victory

by Ilan Shalif (Anarchists Against The Wall)

The Israeli ruling elite, who counted on the willingness of the PLO and Fatah to compromise in order to let them keep some of the territories occupied during the 1967 war (if pressed long enough), made a miscalculation. Part of these weakening efforts involved leniency towards the fundamentalist Hamas, that was supposed to substitute the nationalist tendency with a religious agenda. The effects of this strategy led simply to a weakening of the corrupt Palestinian authority to levels that became too high to control, giving the Israelis in return a more fundamentalist and less corrupt/bribable Hamas government that has taken on itself both fundamentalism and the active struggle against the occupation from the religious point of view (the extreme nationalist aspect of the religious is not restricted to the Jewish religion...).

The modern Capitalist system is dependent on a capitalist class that dominates the State bureaucracy. When the capitalist system is imposed by ex-colonial rulers without a strong enough capitalist class, the State bureaucracy or the military elite take control. In the case of the Palestinian territories handed over to the rule of the returning PLO military and bureaucracy, there was no restraining influence from a strong, local capitalist class. Thus, the higher-level personnel among the returnees used corruption to enrich themselves and bribed the lower-level personnel to ensure their loyalty.

The working class and the peasants could only envy the new corrupt ruling elite. This system could not function properly as it was not independent of the Israeli occupation forces, who encouraged the growth of the fundamentalist Hamas.

Thus Hamas, who have distributed a lot of charity to the most needy, also through their NGO-like facilities in areas such as medical care, education and social services, behaved in what seemed to be a non-corrupt way, thereby managing to get plenty of sympathy votes, even from people who could not be considered as fundamentalists.

From the polls it seems that the voters of Fatah and Hamas did not differ so much where their level of religious fervour was concerned. But there were two other reasons not connected with religion that made people vote for Hamas: first, as a form of punishment of the corrupt Fatah group, and second, in support of their more systematic fight with Israel.

In addition, Fatah was so disorganized as a result of internal conflicts and the persistent assaults by Israeli forces, and was plagued with so many internal rivalries, that Hamas was able to increase the number of its MPs beyond that which its core of voters would normally allow.

Hamas itself is not monolithic. The main motivation of its core activists is to promote the Islamic religion, so they did use extreme national militancy for several years. However, there are many of them who would be willing to compromise with Israel and the imperial powers in order to keep themselves on top, or as an important factor.

It is not by chance that in one municipality in which Hamas won control the council a year ago, only Fatah candidates were elected, or that in the small village of Bil'in in which the nationalist popular committee for the struggle against the fence is doing such good work, Fatah obtained 20 votes more than Hamas.

Hamas achieved about 42.9% of the total votes in the present Palestinian elections. However, due to the disorganization of Fatah, and the election procedure - half (66 seats) elected in the proportional vote and half in the regional constituency vote (66) - they obtained 56% of the seats in the PNA parliament. Now they will have to decide (or split) if they want to use their new power to promote their fundamentalism using the Palestinian Authority system and stop the military resistance in return for legitimacy in the eyes of the main capitalist states.