According to official data, terrorist movement HAMAS has won a majority in parliament. Now this creature of Shaikh Yasin's has 76 seats of 132 in the Palestinian Legislative Assembly (Shaikh Yasin himself was killed in a special operation conducted by Israelis), which means that the terrorists have got the right to form a government. Their main rivals – Yasir Arafat's heirs from the FATAH Party – have suffered a crushing defeat, having won only 43 seats.
Thursday morning prime minister A. Kurei was the first to lose his pecker. He resigned, without waiting for the official announcement of the poll results. Palestinian president Abu Mazan, also known as Mahmoud Abbas, who had promised to resign in the event of his defeat at the polls, was thus driven to the wall.
HAMAS, for its turn, is celebrating victory. The leadership of that organization has already declared its readiness to form a coalition government – the government of national unity. In the course of the run-up campaign HAMAS had promised, in the event of its victory, to go on fighting for the destruction of the Jewish state and to give up the moderate course of looking for a compromise with Israel that FATAH and its leader M. Abbas had been following.
In this situation, the whole process of the Middle East settlement has come into question. According to an international classification, HAMAS is a terrorist organization. US president George Bush has already renounced any negotiation with terrorists. The European Union and Russia have been more cautious in their comments on the Palestinian election results, welcoming on the whole the democratic show of the Palestinian people's will.
Israeli politicians have been greatly worried by the development of the situation in Palestine. Opinions differ in the Jewish establishment, from profound pessimism to cautious optimism, but most people expect little good coming from HAMAS. An emergency meeting of the Israeli cabinet was held last night to discuss the new situation.
By and large, moderate politicians in Tel-Aviv believe that the international community has powerful levers to pressure the Palestinian leadership, including economic ones. It gives them certain hope that possibly a dialog with HAMAS can be sustained and a peaceful settlement process may be continued under a stiff control by the US, European Union and Russia.
In any case, under the conditions of a new political reality in the Middle East all parties to the peaceful settlement process would have to show maximum flexibility and willingness to compromise. If this does not happen, revanchist attitudes will finally prevail both in Israel and Palestine, and the vector of political development in this highly volatile region will be defined in the months and years to come by the party of the war.