The last Palestinian parliamentary election, held on January 25, 2006, resulted in a victory for Hamas, the Islamist movement controlling the Gaza Strip. The next parliamentary election is scheduled to take place on May 15, 2021….
Hamas won the 2006 vote mainly because its candidates ran as part of a list named Change and Reform Bloc. The slogan of the list [political party] was: "Islam is the solution; one hand builds, the other resists." The Hamas list, in its election program, promised to combat all forms of corruption and "make Islamic law [sharia] the main source of legislation in Palestine." The Hamas list, in addition, pledged to "use all methods, including armed resistance" against Israel. Because of these promises, Hamas won 74 of the 132 seats of the PLC. Its rivals in Fatah received 45 seats.
Hamas does not recognize Israel's right to exist. It boycotted the first parliamentary election in 1996 on the pretext that the vote was being held under the umbrella of the Oslo Accords, signed three years earlier between the PLO and Israel.
Hamas remains opposed to the Oslo Accords because it does not believe in any peace process with Israel. After all, how can Hamas accept any peace process when its charter openly calls for the annihilation of Israel?
Another list that contested the 2006 election was named Third Way. The list was headed by Salam Fayyad, who has a PhD in economics from the University of Texas at Austin. Fayyad's list won only2.41%of the vote in the 2006 PLC election. Fayyad went on to serve as Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority from 2007 to 2013.
Why did the Third Way yield little success? Unlike most of the candidates on the Fatah and Hamas lists, Fayyad was not involved in anti-Israel terror activities; mainly, he never spent a day in an Israeli prison. As far as many Palestinians are concerned, it is more important if one graduates from an Israeli prison than from the University of Texas at Austin.
Fayyad's election program focused on the need to "end security anarchy and the chaos of weapons, build strong and professional security forces and implement a reform plan" in PA institutions….in other words…to dismantle the armed gangs and militias roaming the Palestinian streets and make sure that the Palestinian security forces operate in accordance with the law. Evidently, these promises did not appeal to the overwhelming majority of the Palestinians.
Palestinians who did not vote for Fayyad's Third Way list were actually saying that they oppose the disarmament of the armed groups of Fatah and Hamas.
If Fayyad chooses to run in the May 22 parliamentary election with the same message, it is unlikely that he will receive many more votes than he got in 2006. Indeed, it is entirely possible that he will receive fewer votes than he did then. Any Palestinian, like Fayyad, who runs in the election on a platform that talks about peace and coexistence with Israel will lose.
How can any candidate who runs on a ticket that promotes normalization and peace with Israel win at a time when Palestinians are being radicalized against Israel (by their leaders) on a daily basis? How can any candidate who did not spend time in Israeli prison win at a time when Palestinian security prisoners are being glorified by Palestinian leaders as "heroes”?