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They held elections of a sort there two weeks ago. As the Palestinian Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh writes ["Palestinian Elections: Which Fatah Won?"], the Fatah party of President Mahmoud Abbas won a majority of seats.
To understand, let's carefully define some terms. Like "president", "Fatah", "elections" and "won".
These municipal elections, held in 93 municipal and village councils across the PA's fiefdom (historically called Judea and Samaria) but not for the so-called Palestinian parliament, were the first voting opportunity in the PA-controlled region in more than six years.
They were boycotted by the opposition, meaning the Islamist terror group Hamas. However there was a different sort of opposition, and they did well. As Abu Toameh points, the candidates who were fielded by the Abbas-controlled Fatah leadership found themselves running against Fatah members who formed themselves into an independent ticket. Guess how it turned out?
"The Fatah "rebels" scored major victories in important cities, such as Jenin, Nablus and Ramallah, as well as many villages. Abbas and the veteran Fatah leadership tried up to the last minute to dissuade the disgruntled members of his faction from running as independents, but to no avail. The Fatah Central Committee, a body dominated by Abbas loyalists, later decided to expel all the Fatah candidates who insisted on running in the election separately... Many of the Fatah candidates who were dismissed scored significant victories. Candidates who were expelled from Fatah defeated those who expelled them: Abbas and old guard Fatah leaders. Even in places where Abbas's Fatah candidates won, the vote was on the basis of clan affiliation. Many Palestinians voted for Abbas's Fatah candidates not because they were satisfied with the old guard leadership of Fatah, but simply because the candidate happened to belong to their clan. What is perhaps most worrying for Abbas is the fact that a large number of his policemen and security officers voted for the dissident Fatah candidates who ran against the Palestinian Authority's nominees." [Abu Toameh]As for president Mahmoud Abbas, we've posted numerous times about the absurdity of calling this lifelong denier of the Holocaust and booster of terrorists/terrorism a moderate. (Many journalists and their editors don't agree with us.) But beyond that, he's also an illegitimate political fraud. As Sultan Knish points out
Western media outlets insist on referring to Mahmoud Abbas as the President of the Palestinian Authority, even though he’s currently on the 7th year of his four year term... Abbas has no political legitimacy since his term expired in 2009. Salam Fayyad has even less legitimacy since he was never elected by anyone and his appointment to Prime Minister was never even confirmed by the Palestinian parliament, who have no legitimacy either because their last election was in 2006. But even though the Palestinian Authority’s president, prime minister and parliament have not been elected by anyone, the terrorist democracy experiment is still going on with with local councils.
This has consequences. Abu Toameh says "Palestinian analysts are convinced that had Hamas participated in the elections, turnout would have been much higher and the Islamist movement would easily have defeated a divided Fatah". This is quite worrying, but not new.
If you have the misfortune to live under the control of Abbas and his henchman, here's a taste of what you can expect (hat tip to Challah).
A gentleman with the not-so-gentle name Jihad Harb is a newspaper columnist. This past Tuesday, the head of the PA's Department of Public Prosecutions called him in for a conversation. He was informed that a complaint had been filed against him under the Jordanian Penal Code (in force under PA law) by no less a personage than "the Chief of Staff of the Palestinian presidency". The charges: libel and slander and directly insulting the employees in the Office of the President arising from an article he had written two months ago. There's outrage in certain very specific corners of the Palestinian Arab world - at the optimistically named Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms, for instance. But otherwise, it's an invisible story - as if it never happened.
Sultan Knish, reflecting on the 'elections', points out some things that the rest of us ought to take away:
If Fatah can’t win local elections, it certainly can’t win anything bigger. Its political institutions have no legitimacy and derive their support entirely from the backing of Western diplomats. If the Fatah regime has no democratic legitimacy, then on what basis is it regarded as the legitimate representative of Muslims living within the West Bank and Gaza? And on what basis is Israel being asked to negotiate with it? And finally, on what basis is any bid that it makes at the UN being taken seriously and on what basis are American tax dollars being funneled into a two state project, when the the West Bank and Gaza are already two states, one run by Hamas, one run by Fatah, and neither holding any real elections?