The Palestinians: Who's Afraid of Elections?
Almost at the same time that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was meeting in the White House with President Barack Obama last week, the Palestinian government surprised Palestinians by announcing that municipal elections, slated for July 17, have been called off indefinitely.
Abbas's government did not offer any explanation for its controversial decision. The election was supposed to be held only in the West Bank: not only had Hamas, along with several other radical groups, banned the election in the Gaza Strip, it had announced its intention to boycott it.
Many Palestinians who have condemned the decision as undemocratic and illegal say that the real reason behind the cancellation of the vote is Abbas's fear that his ruling Fatah faction would suffer a humiliating defeat.
Fatah seems to have good reason to be afraid to contest the vote.
Over the past few weeks, Fatah leaders failed to agree on the identities of the candidates who would represent them in the election.
Many Fatah members threatened to run as independents or as representatives of their clans -- one of the reasons Fatah lost the last two votes: the municipal election in 2005 and the parliamentary election in 2006.
The decision to call off the election should be regarded as an admission of failure on the part of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority. It is also a blow to the US Administration's efforts to prepare the Palestinians for statehood.
The US, like the rest of the international community, continues to stick to the belief that Abbas and Fatah are credible peace partners who would one day be able to deliver a peace treaty to the Middle East.
But a party that cannot even hold a municipal election should not be treated as a real partner to anything.
Following Fatah's sixth general assembly in Bethlehem in 2009, some Western and Israeli political analysts started reporting how the faction has gone a long away toward reuniting and reforming itself.
The decision, however, to call off the municipal election in light of deep divisions in the faction proves that all the talk about Fatah "getting its act together" was nothing but wishful thinking.
Fatah continues to be dominated by most of the figures that were responsible for its defeat to Hamas in the last two elections. This is the reason why most Palestinians still do not trust Fatah. And this is the reason why Fatah is unlikely to win in any election, at least not in the foreseeable future. Those who are negotiating with Fatah as a peace partner need to absorb this fact.
Comment on this item
by Richard Kemp
Would General Allen -- or any other general today -- recommend contracting out his country's defenses if it were his country at stake? Of course not.
The Iranian regime remains dedicated to undermining and ultimately destroying the State of Israel. The Islamic State also has Israel in its sights and would certainly use the West Bank as a point from which to attack, if it were open to them.
There can be no two-state solution and no sovereign Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan, however desirable those things might be. The stark military reality is that Israel cannot withdraw its forces from the West Bank.
Fatah leaders ally themselves with the terrorists of Hamas, and, like Hamas, they continue to reject the every existence of the State of Israel.
If Western leaders actually want to help, they should use all diplomatic and economic means to make it clear to the Palestinians that they will never achieve an independent and sovereign state while they remain set on the destruction of the State of Israel.
by Louis René Beres
The Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO], forerunner of today's Palestinian Authority, was founded in 1964, three years before Israel came into the unintended control of the West Bank and Gaza. What therefore was the PLO planning to "liberate"?
Why does no one expect the Palestinians to cease all deliberate and random violence against Israeli civilians before being considered for admission to statehood?
On June 30, 1922, a joint resolution of both Houses of Congress of the United States endorsed a "Mandate for Palestine," confirming the right of Jews to settle anywhere they chose between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. This is the core American legacy of support for a Jewish State that President Obama now somehow fails to recall.
A sovereign state of Palestine, as identified by the Arabs -- a Muslim land occupied by "Palestinian" Arabs -- has never existed; not before 1948, and not before 1967. From the start, it was, and continues to be, the Arab states -- not Israel -- that became the core impediment to Palestinian sovereignty.
by Timon Dias
It looks as if this new law is meant to serve as a severe roadblock to parties that would like to dismantle the EU in a democratic and peaceful way from within.
A rather dull semantic trick pro-EU figures usually apply, is calling their opponents "anti-Europe."
by Alan M. Dershowitz
by Soeren Kern
Austria has emerged as a major base for radical Islam and as a central hub for European jihadists to fight in Syria.
The proposed revisions would, among other changes, regulate the training and hiring of Muslim clerics, prohibit the foreign funding of mosques, and establish an official German-language version of the Koran to prevent its "misinterpretation" by Islamic extremists.
Muslims would be prohibited from citing Islamic sharia law as legal justification for ignoring or disobeying Austrian civil laws.
Leaders of Austria's Muslim community counter that the contemplated new law amounts to "institutionalized Islamophobia."
Official statistics show that nearly 60% of the inhabitants of Vienna are immigrants or foreigners. The massive demographic and religious shift underway in Austria, traditionally a Roman Catholic country, appears irreversible.