Hamas says it is confident it will score another victory in the upcoming Palestinian parliamentary election, according to sources close to the Islamist movement.
The Islamist movement says it also has no intention of accepting the conditions of the Middle East Quartet (US, UN, Russia and EU) for the recognition of any Palestinian government, the renunciation of violence, the recognition of Israel’s right to exist and a commitment to abide by all agreements signed between the Palestinians and Israel.
Hamas’s election program will be similar to the one it used to win the hearts and minds of Palestinians during the 2006 parliamentary election.
Then, Hamas candidates ran as part of a list named the “Change and Reform Bloc” under the slogan: “Islam is the solution. One hand builds, another resists. Yes to reform, yes to change.”
Hamas believes its chances of scoring another victory, if and when the parliamentary election takes place, are very good, given the growing schism in Fatah and allegations of financial and administrative corruption in Palestinian Authority institutions, the sources said.
Hamas is also convinced that many Palestinians will vote for its candidates because they identify with the Islamist movement’s ideology.
There were two main reasons why Hamas won the last parliamentary election. Firstly, there were divisions among Fatah, many of whose disgruntled members chose to run as independents. Secondly, there was widespread frustration with rampant corruption of Fatah and PA leaders.
Explaining its decision to participate in the 2006 election, the Change and Reform Bloc said in its election program: “The Islamic Resistance Movement [Hamas] believes its participation in the legislative elections at this time, and in light of the reality in which the Palestinian cause is witnessing, comes within the framework of its comprehensive program for the liberation of Palestine and the return of the Palestinian people to their land and homeland.”
In 1996, Hamas boycotted the first parliamentary elections because they were held under the umbrella of the Oslo Accords, which it continues to oppose.
In 2006, however, Hamas changed its mind and decided to participate in the election to the parliament, the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). The result was a victory for Hamas, which received 44.45% of the vote and won 74 of the 132 seats.
Addressing the Palestinian public ahead of that election, the Change and Reform Bloc said it was seeking “to build a developed Palestinian civil society and direct the Palestinian political system and its political and reform program to achieve the national rights of the Palestinian people.”
The Hamas list emphasized that “historical Palestine is part of the Arab and Islamic lands, and it is a right of the Palestinian people that does not pass by the statute of limitations.”
The Palestinian people, the list noted, “are still in the stage of national liberation, and they have the right to work to restore their rights and end the occupation by using all means, including armed resistance. Resistance in all its forms is a natural right of the Palestinian people to end the occupation and establish the Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.”
The Hamas list also promised to make Islamic law “the main source of legislation in Palestine and respect public freedoms.”
“Palestinian blood is a taboo in Palestinian society, and dialogue is the only acceptable method for resolving internal Palestinian disputes,” it told voters.
Moreover, the Hamas list pledged to halt “political arrests” and vowed to “protect civil-society institutions.”
But in July 2007, the group staged a violent coup against the PA and seized control of the Gaza Strip. Dozens of Palestinians were killed during the violence.
Hamas has since arrested thousands of Palestinians, especially those affiliated with its rivals in Fatah, in addition to journalists, political activists, human-rights advocates and civil-society workers.
Hamas’s 2006 election campaign also focused on corruption, an issue that has been bothering many Palestinians since the inception of the PA in 1994.
“Public funds are the right of all the Palestinian people and should be used in financing comprehensive Palestinian development in a manner that achieves justice away from abuse, corruption and embezzlement,” Hamas said in its election program.
It promised to combat corruption “in all its forms and enhance transparency and accountability.”
Hamas leaders were scheduled to participate in a meeting of several Palestinian factions in Cairo on Monday to discuss preparations for the parliamentary, presidential and Palestinian National Council (PNC) elections.
If the factions reach an agreement, the parliamentary election will take place on May 22, and the presidential election will take place on July 31. The vote for the PNC, the PLO’s legislative body, has been set for the end of August.
Aware that its chances of winning the presidential election are nonexistent, Hamas has its eyes set on the Palestinians’ two parliaments: the PLC and the PNC.
The PLC’s 132 members represent Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. The PNC parliament has nearly 700 members and represents all Palestinians, inside and outside those areas.