Thursday, January 06, 2005

This Sunday is PA election day

Haaretz - Israel News - Abbas or bust:
"An East Jerusalem journalist who saw a photo of Abbas with the caption 'Welcome the Hero' reported that his family members simply burst out laughing. Abbas a hero? Nonetheless, they will elect him. Why? 'Because the whole world wants him; America, the Arab countries, Europe, Israel - you want him, you can have him, and we'll see what happens,' he says."

It appears democracy is just as messy in Palestine as anywhere else. In fact, this little vignette describing less than overwhelming enthusiasm for the front runner Mahmoud Abbas reminded me of the scene in Doug Adams' Hitchhiker Trilogy where Arthur Dent is told about a planet with a democracy that always elects lizards even though the people who elect them hate lizards. The reason? If they didn't vote for a lizard, the wrong lizard might get elected.

There is still the formality of the election and some speculation that the ur-rejectionist Dr. Mustafa Barghouti might pull an upset if Hamas adds its endorsement to that of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; but this is, mercifully, an unlikely outcome although the strength of Barghouti's vote may influence how far Abbas can go in his professed willingness to put the "road map" on the table as the basis for serious, good faith negotiations.

It seems that all are agreed that Abbas, whatever he lacks in the heroism department, is the man of the hour. Can he and the new grand coalition government in Israel succeed in making peace?


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