by Khalid Amayreh in occupied Palestine
Hamas demands for meaningful guarantees that would ensure free and fair elections, to be conducted throughout the occupied territories of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem as part of the national reconciliation process have drawn some consternation among Palestinian Authority officials especially Fatah leaders.
Hamas' demands include guarantees that the elections must be conducted in East Jerusalem, which the Zionist regime considers an integral part of its "eternal and undivided capital."
The Islamist liberation movements also demands guarantees against arbitrary arrest or detention by the Israeli occupation army which controls every nook and cranny in the West Bank as well as guarantees against flagrant interference with free campaigning and electioneering.
Some PA officials have admitted that the Ramallah regime is in no position to give such guarantees since it has no real control on the ground.
Well, if the PA can't give these manifestly logical guarantees for conducting free and transparent elections, then what is the point of holding such elections in the first place?
Hamas is not creating unnecessary obstacles for Palestinian reconciliation. The Islamist liberation movement has every right under the sun to make sure that its candidates and nominees won't be rounded up by the Gestapo-like Israeli security agencies and dumped in dark Jewish dungeons and concentration camps for years on concocted and frivolous charges stemming from their affiliation with "a terrorist organization."
Indeed, in calling Hamas a terrorist organization, Israel and her criminal supporters are effectively fornicating with language. Can any honest person under the sun imagine a more terrorist, more racist and more evil regime on earth? Yes, there are criminal regimes that slaughter people deemed inimical, but Israel, which mendaciously claims to be the only truly democratic state in the Middle East, has a systematic policy based on ethnic cleansing targeting an entire religious-ethnical community, namely the Palestinian people.
In order to be truly democratic, any elections must be held in an absolutely free atmosphere. If various contenders are not granted an equal opportunity, this means that the elections won't be free and therefore won't be democratic.
Some Fatah people, whose tongues function much more swiftly than their brains do, argue that Hamas has no right to insist on guarantees which everyone knows, are impossible.
Their argument goes like this: Hamas took part in the 2006 elections; it should accept the same conditions and stop making excuses.
Well, in 2006, hundreds of Hamas' candidates in both the municipal and general elections were summarily detained by the Israeli occupation army. Many of these candidates, who had done absolutely nothing wrong apart from taking part in the polls, were arrested and given hefty jail sentences even before the Election Day.
Some, actually dozens, were held as hostages by the Israeli security establishment for prolonged periods extending to 60 or 70 months. I know that at least 25 elected officials, including some 15 Islamist Legislative Council members, are still languishing in Israeli concentration camps for the fifth consecutive year.
For example, Nayef Rajoub, who in the 2006 elections won the largest number of votes in the Hebron District, was detained for fifty months, without charge or trial. Moreover, a few months after he was released in autumn 2009, he was rearrested for no reason. He is still languishing in Zionist dungeons and concentration camps.
The same story can be replicated in numerous other cases where Islamist politicians, including nearly all the elected lawmakers, are haunted, hounded, and rounded up as if they were thieves and common criminals when these esteemed people actually represent the crème de la crème in their respective communities. Indeed, the fact that these people have won the trust of their people is strong damning evidence vindicating Hamas and incriminating the Nazi-like Israeli occupation regime.
Hence, the question begs itself whether it is fair and wise for Hamas to embark, one more time, on a feat that would lead nowhere.
Hamas is not reluctant to go to elections. Hamas and other Palestinians are watching Islamist forces win elections almost everywhere in the Arab world from Casablanca to Cairo. However, going to elections under existing circumstances where Israel, not the Palestinian people, has the final say with regard to everything pertaining to elections, would be a great disservice to the Palestinian people and their enduring just cause.
More to the point, it is not true that the PA is totally powerless to secure free and democratic elections, regardless of the Israeli factor.
We all know that the survival of the PA is a paramount American and European foreign policy interest. Hence, the PA can enlist these key world powers to pressure Israel to respect the right of Palestinians to conduct democratic elections without being haunted by Israeli bullying, encroachment and provocations.
Indeed, if the PA won't do that then its very existence should be rendered redundant since an entity that is subject to the Israeli will can't achieve Palestinian national goals, especially deliverance from the clutches of Jewish Nazism.
We, who closely monitor the political behaviors of the PA regime, do suspect that the Ramallah regime is not really interested in conducting truly democratic elections six months from now. We also suspect that the PA is actually more than comfortable with the draconian Israeli measures against Hamas since these measures would eventually militate against the Islamist movement in any elections.
Fatah knows well that Israeli restrictions targeting Hamas' people would lead to effective immobility if not paralysis, which would be converted to election assets for the secular group.
Hamas doesn't seek preferential treatment; it only seeks equality for all. Therefore, going to elections under current circumstances would be a grave miscalculation for Hamas. It would be akin to having a man thoroughly in fetters and then throwing him in the water. He wouldn't survive even if he were the best of swimmers.
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|Liaquat Ali Khan|