hamas rally 298.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
The security establishment painted a grim picture of the aftermath of the upcoming Palestinian legislative elections, warning that a strong Hamas victory would lead to the total destruction of the Palestinian Authority, the only body Israel has been able to negotiate with. Security officials warned that the new situation will have severe repercussions on future dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians.
Describing the "no-win situation" Israel will be forced to reckon with, security officials declared that a significant Hamas win may spur Fatah factions to stir up trouble and resort to violence, perceiving the move as the only way to serve its interests and reach Hamas's level of popularity. "Everything achieved by Israel and the PA in the past will be lost," a security official said Tuesday.
If PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas decides on the other hand to postpone the elections at the last minute, or resign, the decision could spur Hamas to renew its violence against Israel.
"All in all, the elections will not pass quietly," an official said.
Rivalry and tension surround the different Fatah factions vying to be elected. A Hamas victory means there will be no mutual base for Israel to enter any kind of dialogue, said the officials, adding that no one in Hamas - even Ismail Haniya, considered a pragmatist - would agree to recognize the State of Israel or put terror aside for the sake of entering a dialogue. Israel would have no proper Palestinian leadership to address.
"The future looks bleak. It is clear that, whatever the outcome, Israel will be faced with an upsurge in violence and a breakdown in the situation," an official said.
"No matter how you look at it, nothing good will come out of the situation. It is a shame that the US is unable to understand the situation and the new reality Israel will be faced with. It is possible that we will witness the last democratic elections to take place in the PA," one of the officials said.
The officials were unwilling to divulge how the situation would affect the Gaza terminal crossings or other projects and agreements reached between Israel and the PA in the past.
According to estimates that have reached the security establishment, officials assess that Abbas will postpone the elections at the last minute in an attempt to avoid confronting an almost certain Hamas victory. Recent reports that reached the security establishment portray Abbas as a weak soul incapable of taking charge of the situation. The aides that surround Abbas are pegging their hopes on his failure and perceive him as a man unable to cope with the internal pressures he is confronted with. Security officials did not rule out the possibility that Abbas may resign.
Abbas's biggest mistake, they said, was the strategic decision not to confront Hamas, because that enabled Hamas to continue with its ongoing activities uninterrupted. Abbas's weakness can be seen in his failure to uphold any of the agreements he signed with Israel. "In West Bank cities where the PA received security control he failed to disarm fugitives and reign in extremists," an official said.
The chaos and lawlessness that rage through the PA-controlled areas continues without any real attempts by the PA leadership to halt the situation and restore law and order, the officials added.
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz's announcement on Tuesday that Israel will permit east Jerusalemites to vote in the upcoming Palestinian elections took some security officials by surprise. "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs recommended that Israel refrain from making its stand on the issue official and wait until the last minute in order to evade being blamed by the Palestinians for possible hitches," one security official said.
The official noted, however, that Israel had in 1996 informed the Palestinians that east Jerusalemites would be permitted to vote in Israeli post offices in east Jerusalem as well as in Abu Dis. "We are reverting to the same policy we upheld in past elections," he said.
Israel said it was willing to facilitate the process on election day. However, the officials warned, under no circumstances would Israel allow Hamas activists or others belonging to terror groups to campaign in east Jerusalem.
One official disagreed with the decision, implying that the ban on Hamas campaigning was "a kind of absurdity, a situation whereby east Jerusalemites armed with envelopes will cast their votes in ballot boxes located inside Israeli post offices."
The officials also added that, in the West Bank, if a Hamas fugitive arrives at a checkpoint he will be arrested by security forces.
"Israel does not intend to initiate any operations on the Palestinian election day, but if a wanted fugitive shows up at a checkpoint he will be arrested. The Palestinians have been informed of this," an official said.