June 9, 2005
MIDDLE EAST: HAMAS 'COULD BENEFIT IN THE END' FROM PA ELECTION DELAY
** Pro-Abbas analysts praise the PA's "determination to complete the democratic process."
** Liberal outlets blast the election postponement as a "flagrant betrayal of democracy."
** Hardline Arab papers blame internal Palestinian disputes on "Israeli conspiracies."
** Leftist observers applaud efforts to hold talks with Hamas as a "mature step."
'The whole issue will be easily resolved'-- Palestinian and Israeli papers joined in support of the PA's "sole legitimate leader's" decision to postpone parliamentary elections. Palestinian papers stressed the delay "is not a crisis for Palestine"; independent Al-Ayyam predicted the "serious and responsible dialogue" between Abbas's Fatah faction and Hamas would succeed. Tel Aviv's left-leaning Ha'aretz backed a "relationship of trust" between Abbas and Israel. Germany's centrist Der Tagesspiegel stated the delay may facilitate the emergence of "new blood that can revitalize Fatah." Warning against "factional violence," moderate Arab papers said "not escalating disputes" among Palestinians was a priority.
'This is not the way democracy works'-- Critics labeled Abbas's decision a "major setback for Palestinian democratization." They blamed the delay on Abbas's "apprehension" that Hamas "could score a major success" in the vote. Saudi Arabia's pro-government Arab News noted Palestinians "want a more representative political system" that could end "Fatah's monopoly." Qatar's semi-official Gulf Times agreed Abbas wants to "restrict the influence of Hamas." These papers predicted the delay was likely to "intensify the electorate's mistrust" of Fatah and boost Hamas' "massive support." One commentator argued in the elite Jordan Times that "the longer the postponement, the better Hamas' prospects."
'Working to weaken the Palestinians'-- Angry Muslim observers alleged that Sharon is responsible for sparking tension between Fatah and Hamas because he "wants to destroy Palestinian consolidation." Syria's government-owned Al-Thawra stated Sharon is "trying to foil inter-Palestinian dialogue and undermine Palestinian national unity." These outlets warned against letting Israel "implement its plans" for a "flare-up in the occupied territories." Saudi and Pakistani writers panned the "arrogance" of Sharon's declaration that Jerusalem will stay Israeli; Saudi Arabia's moderate Al-Watan urged "Arabian and Islamic firmness" to protect the city.
Western nations have 'begun to realize' the 'importance of Hamas'-- Liberal papers hailed British contacts with Hamas leaders as the "kind of diplomatic, nuanced and reasonable approach" that is "desperately needed." Britain's center-left Independent judged that the "absence of contact between Israel and Hamas makes careful overtures from outsiders more important." As Hamas is the "most popular political force in the PA," noted Russia's reformist Izvestiya, it must be a "major player in any future peace project." Lebanon's moderate Daily Star added that dialogue with Hamas "is the best way to deter bloodshed" because "punishing and ostracizing groups such as Hamas only...fuels their aggression."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITOR: Ben Goldberg
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 30 reports from 12 countries over 3 - 9 June, 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
ISRAEL: "Delay And Deception"
Barry Rubin wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (6/7): "Abbas may be making the mistake of thinking he can use the kind of tricks that work in dealing with the West: forgetfulness and deception. Often, delay is used in Middle East politics to ensure that something is forgotten.... [For example,] those accused of the attack [on a U.S. convoy in Gaza in October 2003] were allowed to 'escape' from a Palestinian jail. No action has apparently been taken since then by the PA to apprehend or punish them. Abbas goes to the White House and gets $50 million in direct aid. This is typical of the whole story of how terrorism goes unpunished, is forgotten and its lessons are ignored. Hamas, however, has a longer memory than America and is not going to let Abbas postpone the Palestinian elections forever.... Rather than act against terrorists or challenge the prevailing Palestinian worldview, Abbas once again wants Israel to solve his problem by withdrawing from the Gaza Strip. He hopes this will be perceived by Palestinians as a victory for his leadership. Hamas, for its part, will seek to present the withdrawal as a victory for its terrorist campaign and a reason to support its candidates."
"The Only Palestinian Address"
Danny Rubinstein wrote in left-leaning independent Ha'aretz (6/6): "Despite the weaknesses [in his status] Abu Mazen must be Israel's only Palestinian address. He is the sole legitimate leader. He was elected for four years; negotiations must be held only with him and every possible effort must be made to make him a full partner in attempts to reach an agreement. The strengthening of Hamas is indeed a cause for concern, but there is not a lot that Israel can do about it. Abu Mazen, too, is worried by this. Therefore, there is not much room for hesitation on the question of what will happen if Hamas succeeds in the elections. The only thing that is possible to do and should be done is to build a relationship of trust and closeness with Abu Mazen and his people."
"The Size Of The Trauma"
Nahum Barnea wrote in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (6/6): "Disengagement was a decision made by one man.... What did Sharon really want? He wanted, as [top Sharon aide Dov] Weisglass said...to put the Bush formula into formaldehyde for many years, and guarantee the existence of the West Bank settlements 'until the Palestinians become Finns.' If this was the objective, it appears this can cautiously be pronounced a failure. The Palestinians have not become Finns, but the decrease in the amount of terror attacks, Arafat's death and Abu Mazen's election have turned them into Finns in the eyes of most of the world, and to a large degree in the eyes of the U.S. administration as well. When Abu Mazen came to Washington 10 days ago, Bush embraced him warmly, with no criticism. If there was formaldehyde, it has evaporated. I have no knowledge of what will happen here during the battle against disengagement or on the day after it. I foresee that the formula will be something like this: the length of the respite to follow [disengagement] will be determined by the size of the trauma. One day the respite will end, political pressure will be renewed, and in the opinion of many--on the Right and on the Left--terrorism will also be renewed. The coming years, Shavit believes, will be the years of the dividing of the land. He is an optimist. A pessimist would say: not the dividing of the land, rather its disintegration."
WEST BANK: "Zeal Toward Hamas: Why Now?"
Daoud Sharyan opined in independent Al-Quds (6/9): “The political influence of Hamas in the Palestinian areas is not new, nor is the 'flirtation’ between the American administration and the group. It is true that this silent flirtation stopped after 9/11, but it has never ceased to exist, though always conditioned on Hamas’s disarmament and full participation in the political process.... The talk about accepting Hamas and establishing contacts with it cannot be separated from the American desire to start dialogue with Islamist groups, which have become an effective power in the Arab political scene. This American desire also stems from the difficulties facing the U.S. in Iraq and the whole region.”
"What Are We Waiting For When Democracy Is At The Doorstep?"
Mohammad ‘Inaya stated in independent Al-Quds (6/8): "The democracy Bush is promoting in the Middle East is based on the way he wants it to appear to American public opinion. It is the outer package of a campaign to establish an American empire based on the political and economic interests of the United States.... But our rejection of Bush’s call for democracy and our refusal of his Middle East policy do not mean that we should ignore American material power and its values of freedom and democracy, with which we are impressed.... We need to continue to look for democracy, one that is purer than what has been presented to us.”
"Postponement Need Not Be A Problem"
Adli Sadiq commented in official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (6/6): "The issue of postponing the legislative elections is a result of the shallowness of all the agreements [between the PA and Palestinian factions]. What happened in Cairo was insufficient effort to conduct a dialogue on the election process, especially considering the complicated political conditions.... However, the postponement of the legislative elections, even though indefinitely, is not a crisis for Palestine or for any of the Palestinian factions. It is also not intended to be a way out of crisis for Fatah or any other faction. The whole issue will be easily resolved and taken care of, especially considering President Abu Mazin’s determination to complete the democratic process and conduct elections as soon as possible."
"Between The President's Decisions And Those Of The Residents Of Bal'in"
Talal ‘Ukal opined in independent Al-Ayyam (6/6): "President Mahmud Abbas’s decision to postpone the legislative elections, which were supposed to take place on July 17, was only the last event in a series of delays and evasions that rendered the postponement inevitable. But accusing the President of making the decision of postponement based on partisan politics to give Fatah more time to salvage its state of affairs...couldn’t be further from the truth.... The most important issue now is for the PA and all its agencies to assert its clear and decisive determination to complete the democratization process and to declare new dates [for elections] through a serious and responsible dialogue with the factions."
SAUDI ARABIA: "Crimes Of Israel Under Umbrella Of Withdrawal"
Riyadh’s moderate Al-Jazirah editorialized (6/8): "Israel carries out many actions to end the truce with the Palestinians while it keeps talking about peace and withdrawal from Gaza.... It intends to make maximum use of its alleged withdrawal as if it is giving more by the implications of the word withdrawal.... Israel exploits this withdrawal and creates increased tension with the authority by not giving the maps needed by the Palestinians.... Nobody does anything or reminds Israel that it needs to stop its daily aggression. It gives settlers freedom to attack the Palestinians as well as to break into the holy places. Israel uses the withdrawal as a cover to continue its crimes. It seeks to show the withdrawal as a very difficult process so it looks like a great peaceful achievement in the settlement process."
"Sharon Abandons Historical And Geographical Facts"
Abha’s moderate Al-Watan held (6/8): "As usual, Sharon crossed all red lines and canceled historic and geographic facts when he claimed that Jerusalem will remain 'an Israeli territory for ever.' Sharon’s government has been radical in dealing with Jerusalem. He allowed extremist Jews to enter the Al-Aqsa compound. Even Sharon himself broke into the Al-Aqsa compound, which inflamed the ongoing Entifadah.... This arrogance of Sharon must be met by an Arabian and Islamic firmness. They must declare that Jerusalem is not only for Palestinians. It is a holy place for Arabs and Muslims around the world."
"Dangers Of Assaulting Al-Aqsa"
Jeddah’s conservative Al-Bilad noted (6/8): "Some Jewish extremists assaulted Al-Aqsa Mosque under the protection of the occupation troops.... Many extremist groups repeated their attempts to assault Al-Aqsa to carry sermons of uniting Al-Quds.... Palestinians gathered in thousands to defend Al-Aqsa.... The policy of Sharon has known objectives that may drive the area to disaster, as Muslims will not compromise on desecrating one of their holiest places. More than one billion Muslims will be ready to defend Al-Aqsa."
"Healthy Palestinian Field"
Riyadh’s moderate Al-Jazira contended (6/7): "Palestinians tend to face tension and escalation between them. There is an established reconciliation mechanism that has become an outstanding feature of Palestinian policy.... There is strong Palestinian concern for not escalating disputes and taking into account the sensitivity of the conditions.... The effective participation of Hamas in the municipal elections reflects a positive condition. Washington has begun to realize the increase in the importance of Hamas. The Palestinian groups should seek to highlight the side not seen by others.... Efforts should be exerted to eliminate the remains of hatred and rejection by the West. These matters grew due to Zionist controlled media. There are some calls in the U.S. to adopt a realistic approach in dealing with matters."
"Hamas: A Struggling Force With Firm Principles"
Riyadh’s conservative Al-Riyadh concluded (6/6): "Hamas, despite continued attacks by the U.S. and Israel against it and its disagreement with views of some Palestinian groups, was able to gain wider support among the Palestinian people, which qualified it to become a major player in any future peace project.... Furthermore, Hamas has limited its actions to domestic ones, it has not hijacked airplanes, bombed embassies or affiliated itself to a foreign power, rather, it depends entirely on its domestic resources."
"Failing Israeli Plans"
Makkah’s conservative Al-Nadwa observed (6/6): "Israel has been working to weaken the Palestinians.... The Palestinians were always aware of Israeli conspiracies.... Sharon wants to destroy Palestinian consolidation by saying that Israel would not deal with Hamas if it won the elections.... The call of Abu Mazen to postpone the elections should not be misinterpreted. The elections should express Palestinian ambitions in order not to give a chance for Israel to implement its plans."
"Postponement Of Elections"
The English-language pro-government Arab News editorialized (6/6): "The bland announcement President Mahmoud Abbas made when he said that Palestinian elections would be postponed failed to hide the deep divisions within his Fatah Party.... A heated dispute threatens to bubble over. It is an open secret that the delay in the elections is meant to allow time to resolve a dispute over proposed reforms to the voting law. What Abbas did not mention is that the parliamentary poll was put off because of discord within the party concerning reforms to the voting law which were sought by Abbas himself in order to give smaller factions such as Hamas a better chance of gaining seats.... Fatah members are worried that Hamas has become too big for its breeches.... In place of a crackdown, Abbas has encouraged Hamas to enter mainstream politics. The group took full advantage, entering municipal electoral politics for the first time at the end of last year, and doing much better than observers expected.... Hamas won important contests in big population centers in Rafah in Gaza, and Qalqilya in the West Bank and was hoping it could do the same in July's general election in which it might take a third of the seats. Fatah is gambling that a delay in the elections...could put a brake on the smoother-rolling Hamas machine. The delay has naturally angered Hamas.... Surprisingly though, even an end to the truce does not worry some people as much as a Hamas victory at the polls. Which is why several Fatah people believe there should be no parliamentary elections at all, a way of thinking that is in touch with Ariel Sharon and George Bush.... Not everybody fears a Hamas presence.... Now a phase of democratization has begun and many Palestinians want a more representative political system designed to produce a better and stronger slate of candidates. They had apparently found it--up until the announcement of the postponement of elections and with that a postponement of democratic ideals."
"Palestinian Poll Delay"
The pro-government English-language Saudi Gazette held (6/6): "The widely anticipated possibility that parliamentary elections in Palestine would be postponed beyond their scheduled July 17 date has always been on the cards and so it has proved. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has announced a delay in the elections.... Hamas...has reacted with predictable anger. This radical Palestinian organization has done well in local elections and was expected to do well.... As a political entity it is not tainted with political and financial corruption associated with Fatah. Naturally it feels cheated by the latest development that it attributes to narrow partisan motives. Hamas called the postponement a violation of the Palestinian national interest.... It is clear the decision to delay the poll was a result of narrow party considerations.... Abbas's great virtue as a leader at least for those attempting to maneuver the Middle East peace process into place compared to others in Palestinian political life was that he was supposed to be the acceptable face of Palestinian nationalism. More precisely he was at least acceptable to the U.S., which had routinely refused to do business with his predecessor Yasser Arafat. This delay to the elections has undoubtedly tarnished Abbas's image and nowhere more so than with the Palestinian voters many of who will see the postponement as a device designed to manipulate the election process. In this regard the beneficiaries of this delay must be organizations such as Hamas, which both the U.S. and Israel continue to view with hostility. The delay highlights the extraordinarily sensitive nature of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict dogged, as it is, not just with the confrontation between the two main players (the Palestinians and the Israelis themselves) but riven by internal feuding and external pressures from regional and international powers."
JORDAN: "Democracy 'Flagrantly Betrayed"
Hasan Abu Nimah noted in the elite, English-language Jordan Times (6/8): "Unfortunately...Mahmoud Abbas, in a move which came as no surprise, decided last Saturday that the July elections will be indefinitely postponed. This is a major setback for Palestinian democratisation; it is an ill-advised decision, and it will most certainly have adverse consequences.... Talk about possible delay has been going on for a while, and it was attributed to a single significant factor: the fear that the elections may threaten Abbas’ Fateh movement’s monopoly on power, in favour of its major rival, Hamas. This fear was enhanced by the gains Hamas made in the municipal elections.... It is obvious that Fateh acts, therefore, much like many other Arab regimes struggling desperately to stay in power, against the expressed aspirations of the people, as well as against compelling forces strongly imposing the need for democratisation, reform and change.... Israel which has for long been demanding Palestinian reform--although only as an excuse to avoid any steps which would require it to begin dismantling the racist colonial regime it has installed...made it very clear that Gaza disengagement may have to be abandoned altogether if Hamas emerged as the winner.... Abbas is feeding the impression that he is succumbing to Israeli political pressure.... Neither does Washington want Hamas...to win.... It is hard to imagine that calls for preempting democracy are coming from the very capital which has based its entire strategy for the region on promoting democracy.... There could hardly be a more striking example of the application of double standards.... The longer the postponement, the better Hamas’ prospects. That the decision to stop the elections came just days after Abbas met Bush only reinforces the sense that Abbas is acting with full American approval.... Neither Abbas nor Fateh will be able to consolidate their faltering authority by using such illegitimate means.... Postponing the elections is a recipe for disaster and a flagrant betrayal of democracy."
LEBANON: "Dialogue With Hamas Is A Better Approach Than Alienation"
The moderate English-language Daily Star maintained (6/8): "The United Kingdom came under fierce criticism after Foreign Secretary Jack Straw revealed that British diplomats had met with elected officials from Hamas' political wing.... Despite Israeli and American fears, the British effort to make contact with Hamas officials is a good idea and ought to be continued. The fact is that the cold-war tactic of ostracism is an ineffective way of dealing with Islamist liberation movements.... Identifying these groups as blood-thirsty terrorists is similar to the logic of McCarthyism that branded liberal-leaning professors, movie stars and government employees as communists. Islamic liberation movements such as Hamas and Hizbullah are not at all like other terrorist groups.... Hamas and Hizbullah members...live within their communities, where they are well known, recognizable members of society. They participate in democracy as leaders who are elected by a majority of their publics.... Turning one's back on Hamas will not erase the group or its popularity. And punishing and ostracizing groups such as Hamas only adds to their sense of disenfranchisement and fuels their aggression. But bringing them into the political process can alleviate their legitimate grievances. It's a mature step to talk to Hamas, and although it risks looking like an encouragement of violence, it in fact is the best way to deter bloodshed. The greater the stake that groups such as Hamas and Hizbullah have in the political process, the less likely they are to disrupt it. The British dialogue will hopefully give the international community a better sense of the political situation.... In the face of the challenges of the 21st century, this kind of diplomatic, nuanced and reasonable approach is desperately needed."
QATAR: "Poll Delay Won’t Hit Hamas Chances"
The English-language semi-official Gulf Times declared (6/5): "Fear makes people to take pre-emptive steps. In all probability, the announcement made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday to postpone legislative elections was sparked by the apprehension that the militant group Hamas could score a major success in the polls scheduled for July 17. Hamas has been slowly but steadily emerging as a strong contender to Fatah, which has dominated the Palestinian political scenario for decades. In the second stage of municipal polls held recently, Hamas beat Fatah in four out of five major cities. The results shed light on a process of significant change that is sweeping through the Palestinian political system. It showed the massive support the movement enjoyed on the popular level as a liberation movement and representatives of true Islam. The Islamist movement, which traditionally concentrated on its confrontation with Israel, has now moved on to the democratic political arena. And many Palestinians welcome it as they support the prospect of ending Fatah’s monopoly.... But in Israeli eyes, Hamas is the worst kind of terrorist enemy. If the movement is able to exert significant influence over parliament and the decision-making process, it will do everything it can to ensure that the Palestinian side drives the hardest possible bargain.... The prospect of Hamas sweeping the legislative elections has sparked fears in Israel as well.... Hamas, which has been hoping to capitalise on its recent strong showing in municipal elections, has strongly criticised the delay. The postponement comes amid strains between Fatah and Hamas that have already resulted in officials delaying partial re-elections in the Gaza Strip.... The postponement is not expected to change the voters’ mind significantly in favour of the Fatah. And if Abbas wants to restrict the influence of Hamas by delaying the elections, that is not a healthy sign for a nascent democracy like Palestine."
SYRIA: "Judaization Of Jerusalem And Sharon's Target"
Ali Nasrallah observed in government-owned Al-Thawra (6/3): "Sharon's government continues to Judaize Jerusalem, expand settlement activity, liquidate Palestinian activists, and build the separation wall in the West Bank.... Sharon is also trying to foil inter-Palestinian dialogue and undermine Palestinian national unity.... This being the case, it is unacceptable for the international community merely to watch, without engaging in any political action against Sharon's attempts to torpedo Palestinian and international efforts and damage the hopes for a settlement. Nor is it acceptable for the U.S., which is mired in its crisis in Iraq, to feel content with only asking Israel to stop its settlement activities.... The international community must take swift and immediate action to pressure Sharon's government, prevent it from continuing the aggression and settlement activity, and force it to return to the negotiating table and comply with UN resolutions."
UAE: "Testing Times Again"
The English-language expatriate-oriented Gulf Today declared (6/6): "Palestinian politics has again fallen into testing times. The postponement of the July 17 parliamentary elections has brought into open the friction between Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah group and Hamas. Sunday's attack against government buildings in Nablus is a warning signal to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas that unless the groups are talked out of their confrontational positions, there could be a flare-up in the occupied territories much to the satisfaction of the Israeli government. Hamas's objection to the postponement of the election is not to be taken lightly.... This is crucial time for Abbas to get closer to Hamas, which has never shied away from showing its opposition to the politics of Fatah.... After the impressive victories in last month's local elections, Hamas is very careful that the advantages coming out with its new political identity are not lost.... Hamas is angry that the postponement of the election was unilateral.... Fatah's political ambitions may be an important factor in taking decisions concerning the election, but there is more to a better working relationship with Hamas than maintaining Fatah's superiority. Support from Hamas is imperative for Abbas's peace plans with Israel. It is a very volatile atmosphere in the occupied territories, thanks to the Israeli army's oppressive ways. The factional attacks can easily grow into total chaos.... Israel has not been happy with the way Hamas has come up as a political power among the Palestinians and is eager to find causes to isolate the group.... Even though Sharon is unlikely to open up any new advances towards the revival of the peace roadmap, the meeting is crucial because it comes close to two important political landmarks--the Palestinian elections and the Gaza pullout. Factional violence at this time will be a big blow to the entire Palestinian political process. Both Fatah and Hamas stand to lose vital credibility."
BRITAIN: "A Glimmer Of Hope: Months Of Quiet Mark Steady Progress In The Middle East"
An editorial in the conservative Times read (6/8): "Outsiders, including many neighbouring Arab states, underestimate the importance of this courageous and fundamental shift in Israeli political and strategic thinking.... To his credit, Mr. Bush has remained as firm as he has been fair in holding Mr. Sharon to the timetable. James Wolfensohn, his special envoy, yesterday began talks on the pull-out with cautious confidence. If this mood holds, those who want to achieve progress could yet prevail over the many saboteurs waiting in the wings."
"The Ambiguity Of Diplomacy"
The left-of-center Independent opined (6/8): "Israel's refusal to have contact with Hamas at this stage is understandable, as is the censure it heaps on those who do.... Yet arguably, the absence of contact between Israel and Hamas makes careful overtures from outsiders more important. When so much in the Middle East is shifting, and when EU and US officials are also reliably reported to have contacted Hamas, it would be short-sighted for Britain not to do the same."
"Part Of The Solution Too?"
The left-of-center Guardian advised (6/8): "No settlement with the Israelis is possible without at least the acquiescence of Hamas, which is why Mahmoud Abbas, like his predecessor, has sought to bring them into the political process. The Israelis know this too.... The suspicion must be that the real Israeli objections to Hamas are not that it is a terrorist organisation or that they do not trust its reformulations on Israel's right to exist, although anxiety on both scores is understandable. If Ariel Sharon does not want a West Bank settlement worthy of the name he may see Hamas as the most formidable obstacle to imposing one that is manifestly unfair. That it would also constitute an excuse for refusing serious negotiations suggests that statements about Hamas will continue to need careful decoding."
Gemma Poerzgen asserted in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (6/6): "The hopes of many Palestinians for more democracy after Arafat were dashed. President Abbas' delay of the elections is a bankruptcy declaration by the Fatah leadership, which shuns necessary reforms and a principle change of policy. The debate about the election law was an excuse to avoid the confidence vote. With this maneuver, it intensifies the electorate's mistrust against the government and helps the radical group Hamas.... Given the delayed elections, the danger is great that Hamas will not continue to become a political party; it might put an end to the truce. A Gaza pullout under fire would be the worst scenario and could question the whole project."
Susanne Knaul argued in leftist die tageszeitung of Berlin (6/6): "Palestinian President Abbas' decision to postpone the elections is a warning signal for the priorities of the new leaders in Ramallah. The fight against corruption and for democracy does not appear to be on the top of his agenda. For strategic reasons he dropped his former obligations to his toughest competitor Hamas. That is not the way democracy works."
Erik Michael Baader said in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (6/6): "Many voters will see the postponement of the elections as a maneuver to win time in order to avert the predicted parliamentary entry of Hamas, the virtual opposition to the current government. The delay of the elections could result in an act of defiance and Hamas could finally benefit from it. Abbas cannot hope to benefit from the Gaza disengagement, because the Palestinian government did not negotiate the withdrawal, but it is a unilateral move by the Israeli government leader. Most Palestinians and Arabs see it as a successful result of their 'resistance,' the violent acts by radical organizations."
"Who Will Benefit?"
Charles Landsmann noted in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (6/6): "It appears to be clear that Fatah will win time for organizing its own ranks and agreeing on more attractive candidates. On August 4, which is Arafat's birthday, the Fatah movement will meet at a rally to nominate new candidates. We cannot expect that a change of the generation will be made, but there will be new blood that can revitalize Fatah in the elections. If Abbas and his people even succeed in amending the election law, so that parliamentarians could not just be elected in their constituency but also via national party lists, they could get off lightly. A democratic state of Palestine would get a last chance."
Roland Heine observed in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (6/6): "Abbas postponed the elections, but neither Israel nor the U.S. protested. What is going on here? There are many indications that the U.S. and Israel actually encouraged or even urged Abbas to make this move. Bush and Sharon had good reasons to fear that the radical Hamas would enter parliament and would therefore be legitimated. That became even more likely since Abbas' pro-American policy is not popular among the Fatah movement. It is a paradox that Bush and Sharon weakened Abbas. The Palestinian President did not bring much home from his recent trip to Washington, and the announced Gaza pullout is running late. Abbas wanted to show off this withdrawal in the elections."
RUSSIA: "Americans Ready To Talk To Hamas"
Andrey Pravov said in reformist Izvestiya (6/8): “As the Israeli authorities focused on fighting Yasser Arafat and his palace guard, Hamas grew to become the most popular political force in the PA. Not even the Americans can ignore the ‘terrorists’ anymore. But then, for Washington to recognize it as a bona fide partner in negotiations, Hamas has to make concessions, if only for a while.”
PAKISTAN: "Aqsa Mosque And Extremist Jews”
Second-largest Urdu-language Nawa-e-Waqt said (6/7): "Israeli authorities and extremist Jew organizations have stepped up their conspiracies against the Aqsa Mosque. Jew extremist organizations have appealed to the Jews to enter the Aqsa Mosque and perform religious rituals.... The only solution to this problem lies in the awakening of Muslim people, their rulers and reactivation of the OIC."
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