David Hale: Arab Spring could oust Hamas

Palestinians not immune to change, democracy; people will support PA if provided alternative to violence, American peace envoy says.

David Hale 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
David Hale 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The popular uprisings of the Arab Spring could sweep Hamas from power in the Gaza Strip, the US Ambassador for Middle East Peace David Hale was quoted as saying on Thursday by AFP.
“The Palestinians are no more immune to the currents of change and demand for democratization, reform and freedom than any of the other people in the region,” Hale said.
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“I think you will see those same forces affect Hamas because clearly their leadership is not characterized by any of those words.”
The envoy went on to say that the Palestinian people are more likely to throw their support behind the Palestinian Authority if it provides a clear alternative to violence.
MK Amir Peretz (Labor) called on Tuesday for Israel to release senior Fatah-Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti from prison.
“In the current reality, it is important that the government make an effort to [strengthen] the Palestinian Authority over Hamas,” Peretz told The Jerusalem Post. “We can take advantage of the deal [for soldier Gilad Schalit] to free 550 additional prisoners to release those prisoners that can help [PA Mahmoud] Abbas, including Barghouti.
“Today, the Palestinian leadership needs diplomats and statesmen, such as Abbas, but they also need people like Barghouti, a brave man who has grassroots support on the Palestinian street,” the Labor MK said.
Peretz has visited Barghouti in prison several times in recent years, and says that freeing him would make a peace agreement with the PA more secure. “There won’t be a question mark hanging over an agreement; Barghouti will ensure that it will be kept.”
Since the outbreak of the Arab Spring, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Syria, Jordan and Bahrain have experienced both peaceful as well as violent protests demanding their governments institute serious and long-lasting social and economic reforms.