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Thursday, January 26, 2006
It isn’t War v. Peace in Palestine
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:08 am

As per the thesis of my previous post, I would note the following from Time: Why Rising Popularity Poses a Dilemma for Hamas

The first thing that people in the West Bank town of al-Bireh noticed about their new mayor was that he turned up for work on time. Previous mayors had often arrived late, if at all, but Omar Hamayel, 29, has a lot to do. Though al-Bireh is relatively wealthy compared to other towns in the West Bank, its streets are littered with garbage, streetlights and water pipes are broken and unemployment is high. “The fact that when the staff comes to work I am here and when they leave I am still here means that they see a sense of responsibility becoming a reality,” says Hamayel, a former chemistry teacher who was elected mayor a month ago. His employees have taken notice. “He’s at his desk by 8 a.m. and works through after the doors are closed and people leave,” says Ahmad Arqoub, a civil servant who has worked for the town since 1980. “He is really trying to make a good impression.”


Hamayel is a member of Hamas, the radical Islamic group that has actively pursued the violent overthrow of Israel, killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings and rocket attacks and is listed as a terrorist group by the U.S. But Hamas has also emerged as a major a political force, positioning itself as the chief rival to Fatah


In towns like al-Bireh, Hamas has built popular support by providing a disciplined alternative to Fatah, which is seen by many Palestinians as corrupt, inefficient and unable to run a garbage collection service, let alone negotiate with Israel. Hamas has long run its own medical clinics, schools and soup kitchens for the poor—mostly in the Gaza Strip, its stronghold. In last year’s local elections, Palestinian voters gravitated toward Hamas because of its reputation for having “members with a clean record,” as Mayor Hamayel puts it, in a reference to Fatah’s many corruption-tainted officials. Residents of towns where Hamas won control say they are now better run than they were under Fatah.

This is normal politics. Hamas has been able to be more effective in local governance, Fatah has been less than successful at national politics and there has been substantial corruption within Fatah dating back to Arafat. This isn’t a dichotomous choice between war and peace. It has more to do with the simple, yet very important things: trash pickup, elected officials who put in a days work and social services.

I am not declaring Hamas the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I am noting that proper analysis of this situation cannot overlook these factors.

I will say that the development, even incomplete development, of normal politics in the PA is a good thing for peace in the long-run. If daily life becomes more bearable in the PA, then the incentive for the population to see the destruction of Israel as their only hope for a better life will recede and the ability of the militants to be seen as a road to a better life will equally dim.

Filed under: Global Politics, Middle East, Elections | |Send TrackBack

Weapons of Mass Destruction linked with Hamas Rising

1 Comment »

  1. Hamas Rising

    Despite the shock and surprise radiating around the internet today, no one should be surprised that Hamas won and won big in the Palestinian elections. Fatah lacks the support of the masses, which this election verified. Even if Arafat were

    Trackback by Weapons of Mass Destruction — Thursday, January 26, 2006 @ 9:46 am

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