Election of Mahmoud Abbas

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Elections were held in the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT) with Mahmoud Abbas declared a winner despite the unusual circumstances.* Two grave mistakes are noted in reports on these elections; 1) that "Palestinians were electing their leader" and 2) that Abbas now has a "mandate to negotiate with Israel". With regards to the firs misconception, only 1.7 million Palestinians were allowed to vote out of a total of nearly 9 million Palestinians in the world (over 4.5 million adults of voting age). Further only a portion of those 1.7 million people chose to vote (% voter turnout was lower than in the similar elections of 1996). Candidates were harassed and prevented from campaigning and at least one leading candidate (Mustapha Barghouti) was detained twice and beaten by the Israeli occupation forces.[1] Little was said about the conditions of the OPTs both before and during these "elections."

With regards to the misconception about Abbas’s mandate, he was elected by the portion of the Palestinian people most tired and exhausted under occupation. But even some of those (about a quarter or some 3-400,000) chose not to vote because voting was held under occupation and a neo-apartheid system. Others were not able to vote because of Israeli restrictions. Further Abbas ran as representative of Fatah and he has no mandate to violate Fatah’s election platform let alone to discard International law (e.g. with regards to rights of refugees).

However, these elections are not inconsequential. They proved once again (this has happened frequently in history going back to the 1920s elections, to the PLO original structure of representation, to the municipal elections of 1976 etc) that Palestinians are ready for freedom and democracy and can exercise both if given a chance. There is apparently no change in the policies of Israel and its only military and financial backer (the US) with regards to compliance with international law.

But the spin of many in the mainstream US media seems to echo the racist attitudes of Israeli leaders claiming need for democracy and curbing "terrorism". No talk of bringing democracy to Israel which discriminates based on religion or of curbing Israeli terrorism, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.[2] That many Israeli apologists hold key positions in the mainstream US media explains why a large section of the US public is insulated from reality visible to the remaining 95% of world population. It explains why there is not a huge outcry in America about the billions we send every year to support Israel’s continued violations of basic human rights (including rejection of the rights of refugees to return and instead continued ethnic cleansing practices).

Few are allowed to ask the real questions such as is Zionism and Peace in Palestine incompatible [3] or why any convert to Judaism can acquire automatic Israeli citizenship and live on confiscated land whose native inhabitants (Christian and Muslim refugees) are not allowed to return. And so the struggle for freedom continues.

Notes:

[1]. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4153465.stm

[2]. http://pchrgaza.org/files/PressR/English/2005/5-2005.htm

[3]. http://www.qumsiyeh.org/zionismandpeaceinpalestine/

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