HAMAS (Islamic Resistance Movement) won a resounding victory in Wednesday’s general election securing 76 seats in the 132-seat Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), on the first occasion on which it has stood candidates in national elections. The long-standing, dominant Palestinian political movement, Fatah, got 43 seats.
As the extent of Hamas’s victory became apparent yesterday, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Qurei, a leader of Fatah which has dominated the Palestine National Authority (PNA) and the PLC for the past 10 years, resigned along with his Cabinet.
Saeb Erekat, a Fatah leader who has been the Palestinian Chief Negotiator in talks with Israel, the United States and also the Quartet mediators (United Nations, US, Russia and the European Union), said: ‘We have entered a new era.’
The leader of Hamas’s Politburo, Khaled Meshaal, contacted President Mahmud Abbas to affirm ‘a commitment to partnership with all the Palestinian forces, including the brothers of the Fatah movement’.
Before the final results became known Abbas said: ‘After the elections I will form a government and I am always ready for negotiations with the Israelis, although they must want them (the negotiations) on their side. We are partners with the Israelis. They don’t have the right to choose their partner.’
However, reiterating its long held position, another Hamas official, Mushir al-Masri, said: ‘Negotiations with Israel is not on our agenda. Recognising Israel is not on the agenda either now.’
The election victory of Hamas and the resignation of the Fatah-dominated PNA government came as a shock for the leaders of the Zionist entity Israel and its imperialist backers, like US President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Israeli Interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told members of his Cabinet not to comment on Hamas’s win ahead of a crisis Cabinet meeting to discuss it.
US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, declared: ‘As we have said, you cannot have one foot in politics and another in terror.’ In their view only the US has that prerogative.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said: ‘The onus is now on Hamas to choose between democracy or violence. You cannot have both.’
The vote by the Palestinian masses for Hamas is a vote for resistance, to end the Zionist occupation of Palestinian lands and establish an independent state of Palestine, with its capital in Jerusalem.
Hamas has been in the forefront of the armed resistance struggle, particularly since the start of the Second (Al-Aqsa) Intifada in September 2000.
It has paid for its heroism with the lives of martyrs, like its founder, the wheelchair-bound Muslim cleric Sheikh Ahmad Yassin and his successor Abdul Aziz al-Rantisi, murdered in targeted Israeli rocket attacks.
The fact that the Zionists removed their troops and settlements from the Gaza Strip resulted from the successes of the armed resistance struggle there, in which Hamas, Fatah’s militant Al Aqsa Brigades and Islamic Jihad were in the vanguard.
Palestinians voted to get rid of the old leaders of the PNA, who are identified with the Oslo Accords, the so-called ‘peace process’ which has allowed Israel to take more land, construct more settlements and build the separation Wall.
The election result is a manifestation of the strength of the resistance, the Palestinian Intifada. It will strengthen the Palestinian Revolution to end the Israeli occupation and create an independent Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital, and securing the right of return for refugees.
In this struggle the Palestinians have powerful allies throughout the Middle East, in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. The Iranian government congratulated ‘Hamas and all the Palestinian soldiers and the great Islamic people’.
In this situation, the British trade unions, which have an official policy of support for Palestine, must insist that the Labour government continues to provide economic aid to the democratically-elected Palestinian government.
The unions must campaign on this, raise funds and organise to support the Palestinians in every possible way.