“Fate,” Winston Churchill once observed, “holds terrible forfeits for those who gamble on certainties.” By choosing to hold national elections for the first time in more than a decade, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has tossed the dice. But the PA’s decision—part of a revamped strategy to appeal to the new administration in Washington—is already backfiring.
On Jan. 15, 2021, PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced that the authority would conduct parliamentary and presidential elections. The former would take place in May and the latter in July. The PA, which rules over the majority of Palestinians, hasn’t held elections in fifteen years.
The last time that the authority held elections they ended in disaster. Hamas, the U.S.-designated terrorist group that calls for Israel’s destruction, won parliamentary elections held in January 2006. Fatah, the movement which dominates the PA and is controlled by Abbas, refused to recognize the results, sparking a brief and bloody civil war that resulted in Hamas taking power in the Gaza Strip. The years since have witnessed multiple “mini-wars” between Hamas and Israel, prompted by indiscriminate rocket fire and kidnappings by the terrorist organization.
The election and its aftermath also resulted in a fracturing of the Palestinian national movement, with the West Bank being run by the Fatah-controlled PA and Gaza being dominated by Hamas.
While bitter rivals, the supposedly secular Fatah and the Islamist Hamas have much in common.
(Read the rest of this April 28, 2021 National Interest Op-Ed here)