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Tuesday, March 02, 2004

The Islamic Republic of Hamas 

The possibility of the terrorist group Hamas becoming the de facto power in the Palestinian territories is rapidly increasing. Infighting within Arafat's Fatah movement, Israeli withdrawals, and a spiraling security problem are boosting the role of Hamas in Palestinian society. This part is pretty scary to me:

A December poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research showed that Hamas has overtaken Fatah as the most popular political grouping in the Gaza Strip. The poll, with a sampling error of 3 percent, gave Hamas 26 percent of popular support compared to 24 percent for Fatah. The largest group was unaffiliated at 33 percent. In the center's last poll before the intifada, in July 2000, Fatah tallied 42 percent and Hamas 11 percent.
It's good news, I guess, that a third of the people consider themselves unaffiliated, but when a terrorist group tops the popularity poll, alarm bells go off.

Hamas is winning student council elections. It is sweeping the vote in professional societies. Will Hamas be content with those victories, or will it fight, violently if necessary, for a political role in the Palestinian Authority? Will it try to replace the PA altogether?

The ascendency of Hamas leaves Israel in an uncomfortable position. If Hamas gains too much influence, Israel will have no choice but to reoccupy the territories. As much as Likud dislikes Arafat, they hardly want Ahmed Yassin to replace him.

In case you're wondering what's so bad about Hamas (besides suicide bombings), here are some highlights from the organization's charter:

"Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it."

"The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. "

"There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors."
Without Israeli intervention or very wise maneuvering by Arafat, this philosophy could become that of the leaders of the Palestinian people. It's already the most popular one.
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