Voting in Palestine

Today I joined about 35 friends in Albuquerque and we fanned out across District 2 knocking on doors of potential voters.

We talked about the upcoming municipal election on October 8. We urged voters to support our candidate (Isaac Benton), we answered questions about what Benton has accomplished in his 8 years as city councilor, and we explained where they could vote early.

I’m really jazzed by the positive feedback we got from so many households! This person-to-person contact is what makes local politics work in America. The opposition may have more $$ —- a PAC has given our opponent $80,000 —- but Ike has the volunteers with feet on the ground in every neighborhood. That’s what counts!

Candidate Benton's campaign signs have been stolen out of people's yards.

Candidate Benton’s campaign signs have been stolen out of people’s yards.

I wonder how elections work in Palestine. Hamas won the last elections held there in January 2006, to the great consternation of Israel and the United States. Former President Jimmy Carter observed the election and declared it was free and fair. See his report here. But that makes no difference to the “only democracy in the Middle East” (Israel). Palestinians in Gaza must be punished for electing the “wrong” party, hence the blockade going on 6 years now.

Ismail Haniyeh (Hamas)

Ismail Haniyeh (Hamas)

A number of Palestinians I spoke with in Gaza shared with me that they want another election. A Hamas representative said elections will be held when the Israel-US siege is lifted. It’s patently unfair to hold elections now, he said, while Hamas is under siege too. Voters should not be coerced by outside forces to support or oppose any political party. That makes plenty of sense to me.

Earlier this year, Palestinians were lining up to register to vote in case a ballot might materialize sometime in the future, but no one is holding their breath.

Hamas isn’t the only party to overstay its welcome. In the West Bank, the term of Fatah’s President Abbas ended in January 2009.

Mahmoud Abbas (Palestinian Authority)

Mahmoud Abbas (Palestinian Authority)

Arguably, neither Abbas in the West Bank nor Haniyeh in Gaza have any legitimacy to represent the Palestinians but the US and Israel act as if Abbas has a mandate to negotiate a peace agreement. Won’t they be surprised when the deal (if there is a deal) blows up in their faces?

I think Netanyahu and Obama should be focused on ending the siege and assisting the Palestinians to hold free and fair elections, instead of meeting in conference rooms to hammer out a peace agreement. They’ve conveniently gotten the cart before the horse.

One of these days they’ll figure it out.



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Filed under Elections, Gaza, Hamas, Politics

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