Palestinians Hold Their Governments Accountable. Shouldn't the West?
With protesters being slaughtered in Libya and Bahrain, the saga of the Palestinian Authority elections has understandably garnered little attention. But their cancellation immediately after being called last week, due to Hamas's refusal to participate, is worth a closer look, because it explodes one of the West's favorite myths: that Israel's blockade of Gaza strengthened Hamas.
If that were true, Hamas ought to jump at the prospect of elections. After all, it won the last election; now, with its increased popularity, it would surely secure an even bigger win that would force the West to finally end its boycott and acknowledge the Hamas government's legitimacy.Except that Hamas, unlike the West, knows that its popularity has actually plummeted: every recent poll has shown that it would be trounced by Fatah. A December poll by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, for instance, found Fatah beating Hamas 42 percent to 24 percent in the West Bank and 48 percent to 26 percent in Gaza. And since voicing support for Fatah can be dangerous in Hamastan, the real gap in Gaza might be even wider.