The Jordan Times (Editorial)
November 15, 2007 - 6:31pm

So much for Hamas’ hope. Those willing to give the movement the benefit of the doubt, even after its June takeover of the Gaza Strip, have posited the Islamist movement as a necessary cleaning up of the chaotic state of internal Palestinian politics.

But Hamas is repaying such faith with bullets. Opening fatal fire at demonstrators commemorating the third anniversary of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s passing away is inexcusable. Indeed, it is the kind of heavy-handed tactic usually associated with the Fateh-led security services that Hamas pledged to avoid.

Following that up by arresting members of Fateh, essentially for being members of an opposing political faction, simply underlines the message: Hamas, Fateh? Same, same.

So what now for the voices of reason on the Palestinian scene? There seems to be a simple alternative to Hamas’ hardline and Fateh’s incompetence, or worse. A third political faction, though not one composed of well-meaning leftists, is long overdue.

There are as many thoughtful people within the Islamist movement disturbed by the direction Hamas is taking as there are in Fateh fed up with the chaos of the movement. These people need to take the logical and courageous step and break with their respective movements to create a kind of centre party. That party can cherry-pick from both factions core principles to make itself a contender - the principles, discipline and financial probity of the one and the pragmatism and experience of the other.

Combined with a grassroots appeal derived from the personalities that could make up such a party, something revolutionary might pop up: a party that at once is clean and principled, that does not promise one thing and deliver another, a party committed to the peaceful transfer of power, based on the will of the Palestinian people and that will not bow to the occupation, but will pursue negotiations and resistance as they further the Palestinian struggle for justice.

Is it too much to ask? It may be.

There is not a long track record of such political evolution in this region generally. The Palestinians, as always, are a special case and that may help them.

One thing that unites Palestinians is the struggle for their rights. Another is the disgust with incompetent movements interested only in power. The one thing that divides them is the insistence by one party or another that they alone have the formula for obtaining those rights and thus they alone have a right to lead.

A Palestinian centre party may correct this, but only if there are leaders insightful and brave enough to grasp the mantle before it is too late.


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