FMC Blog: Free Speech Zone

HAMAS Wins Historic Election, What's Next?

The Free Muslim Coalition applauds President Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine and his FATAH party for respecting the results of democracy in light of their substantial losses to the radical Islamic group, HAMAS.

HAMAS has won a surprise victory in Palestinian parliamentary elections. Early results give Hamas 76 of the 132 seats in the chamber, with the ruling Fatah party trailing with 43 seats. On top of the seats taken by Hamas and Fatah, the 13 remaining seats went to smaller parties and independents, four of whom were backed by Hamas.

This is the first time in modern Arab history that a ruling party gracefully accepts its losses. The Palestinian people have become the most democratic people in the entire Arab and Muslim world and this is a cause for celebration.

However, HAMAS' win poses serious questions to the future of the Palestinian/Israeli peace talks. At present, Israel is saying it will not deal with HAMAS and HAMAS has said that it will not deal with Israel.

So what's next?

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei of Fatah has offered to resign, and some in FATAH has said they will not join HAMAS in a coalition government. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Fatah party, says he remains committed to a peaceful settlement of the Palestinian Israeli conflict. Mr Abbas will now have to discuss with Hamas the formation of a new government and the appointment of a prime minister.

The Free Muslims Coalition, while disappointed with the election results, believe that all sides must respect the wishes of the Palestinian people. The main issue for internal Palestinian politics and the international community is to make sure that HAMAS does not try to create a theocratic "Islamic State" or change the rules that brought them to power as Iran had done after the Islamic revolution. If HAMAS tries to change election rules where only people with an Islamic ideology can enter elections in the future then the entire world should boycott and suspend all aid to a HAMAS led government.

In the mean time, the world and in particular the Arab and Muslim countries must reach out to HAMAS and convince them to drop the violence and help lead the Palestinians to peace and prosperity. The world should not boycott HAMAS without giving them a chance to do the right thing by pursing a non-violent approach to solving the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Attacking HAMAS at this point may only strengthen their hold on Palestinian hearts and minds. HAMAS will now have to put their utopian rhetoric into action. If they don't bring peace and economic prosperity to Palestine, it is unlikely that the majority of Palestinians will again vote for them in the future.

Posted January 26, 2006 by Kamal Nawash