Avi Issacharoff
February 10, 2009 - 1:00am

The Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority will work with any government Israel elects, as long as it is committed to the peace process, President Mahmoud Abbas' spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, said in a press statement Monday.

Off the record, however, senior PA officials said they are worried by the apparent strengthening of the Israeli right. If, as seems likely, Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu becomes prime minister and Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu greatly increases its representation, this would bolster Hamas, which opposes negotiations with Israel, they argued.

PA officials are therefore hoping that Kadima chair Tzipi Livni and Labor chairman Ehud Barak will form the next government.

Ordinary Palestinians, in contrast, seem to have little interest in the elections. Palestinian commentators explained that after being disappointed by governments led by all three major Israeli parties - Labor, Kadima and Likud - the public has stopped hoping. Regardless of who heads it, every government has continued building in the settlements and failed to reach a final-status agreement, the pundits said.

This view was echoed by Hamas officials, who said there is no difference among the Zionist parties. But Palestinian pundits said they believe Hamas would prefer the Israeli right, which would allow it to make substantial gains.


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