RAMALLAH, West Bank Jan 26, 2006 — Hamas won a landslide victory in parliamentary elections as Palestinian voters rejected the longtime rule of the corruption-ridden Fatah Party, according to nearly complete official returns Thursday. The triumph by the Islamic militant group plunged the future of Mideast peacemaking into turmoil.I won't be the first to say that this could get ugly, but I think there's reason to believe this won't turn in to the firestorm that everyone fears. Look at the Irish experience - Sinn Fein and the IRA have entered in to legitmate debate, and did so years before they disarmed.
The question for Israel is how much are you willing to deal with a political organization whose charter is explicitly anti-Israel and anti-Semitic? Pretty awful choices all around.
And let's not have any illusions about Hamas - any organization that quotes from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in its charter doesn't deserve a progressive's defense. What is worth investigating is what the Palestinians meant when they voted for these people.
Lots of that going around lately.
One final note - it is somehow fitting that Hamas take the leadership of the Palestinian Authority. After all, it was Israel who helped nurture Hamas to try and split the Palestinians away from Arafat in the 1970s.
Israel and Hamas may currently be locked in deadly combat, but, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials, beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas over a period of years.This will probably go down in history as the most successful subterfuge since the Czar aided the Bolsheviks to split the Socialist movement in pre-Revolutionary Russia.
Israel "aided Hamas directly -- the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization)," said Tony Cordesman, Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic Studies.
Israel's support for Hamas "was a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative," said a former senior CIA official.