Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Save Palestinians from themselves

Abbas has no other choice, he must feed his people

In the Middle East, Democracy is a relative concept. The term used (or overused) to describe many Arab states is "Struggling Democracies". Meaning, the ones in power are forever struggling to hold on to their power, while crushing any attempt to challenge them.


As far as the Palestinian Authority is concerned, things are quite different. It is now facing a dilemma many Arab leaders fear: A radical Islamic regime, brought forth by the people. Such, many analysts believe, would be the fate of Egypt or Jordan if truly democratic elections for leadership would take place.


Hamas came to power by popular vote. The voters knew that it doesn't recognize the State of Israel and would like to see it evaporate. This position left the Israeli government with no real choice. The Hamas-led authority could not be a partner, and that is a stand many countries, including the US and UK, agreed to.


Abbas' choice

Hence, Mahmoud Abbas found himself in a problematic position, with no real way to continue the peace process – and feed his people.


His options: Put the whole thing in the cooler for a few years in hope for a better government – and risk the loss of many lives as well as postponement of the Palestinian State dream; or exercise his constitutional right to dissolve the radical government that was imposed on him.


Would that be interpreted as an anti-democratic step? Probably. Would people take to the streets in order to defend their radical yet elected government? Abbas thinks they would not, especially if Israel and the West would back him up: The first by releasing prisoners (maybe the biggest Palestinian cause for bitterness towards Israel) and the latter by giving financial aid.


In the end, the question is not democracy vs. bread. It's the sane world coming together in order to save the Palestinians from themselves. Don't like it? Ask president Mubarak of Egypt why he keeps the Islamist parties on a short leash. He knows why.


Join this debate in Washington Post's PostGlobal


פרסום ראשון: 10.26.06, 12:35
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