Friday, January 27, 2006

Slouching Toward the Abyss: The Morning After The Palestinian Elections

In this morning's Der Spiegel is an interesting article that describes some of the political background to yesterday's Palestinian parliamentary elections. Hamas gained what can only be called a tub thumping victory in a real election, and the future existence of Fatah, the old Arafat party of corruption and conspiracy is doubtful. It is clear that hangovers and headaches are the order of the day.,1518,397558,00.html

The previous arrangement was as good as a three card monte table in Deadwood, South Dakota for people in Fatah who had access to the cash that flowed into the Palestinian governmnent's accounts. Yassir Arafat, it is reported, siphoned off at least $900 million to his accounts, and he was able to send his wife $100,000 per month to maintain herself and the household in gay Paree. The suckers who forked over the dough were fleeced, and the Arab man and woman in the street got years of empty promises, shameless posturing, back alley deals, and nothing to show for years of misrule. Had Sharia been strictly enforced, there wouldn't have been a member of the ruling party with a right hand.

Well, the voters couldn't be expected to put up forever with an administration that would have made that of Hugh J. Addonizio, late mayor of Newark, New Jersey look like a model of probity and good governance. Whether they've gotten anything that will serve them any better remains to be seen. Past history suggests that the man in the street is facing long odds if he expects reform.

In realpolitik terms, as long as Fatah was running the show, the Palestinians weren't going to amount to anything any more than there would be a Newark Renaissance. That was good for Israel. Now the deck's been shuffled, there's a new hand of cards to play, and it remains to be seen whether the new crew can be as thoroughly corrupted at their predecessors.

On the other hand, there probably is not much about the new players and their program that is not known where it matters in Israel, given the porosity of Palestinian security.


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