The first Arab elections to be held in Judea and Samaria (aka 'West Bank') and Gaza on 22 May in more than 15 years – to be followed by a presidential vote on 31 July – in theory give the long-suffering Arab residents in these areas the opportunity to get rid of their failed rulers – the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) in the 'West Bank' and Hamas in Gaza.
The remote chance of this happening however will require a citizens’ grass roots movement to contest the elections - promising a different way forward in reconciling their differences with Israel.
This seems extremely unlikely to happen.
Both the PLO and Hamas remain implacably opposed to making peace with Israel – as their respective constitutions make abundantly clear.
Article 11 of the 1988 Islamic National Resistance Movement (Hamas) is unequivocal:
“The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that. Palestine is an Islamic Waqf land consecrated for Moslem generations until Judgement Day.”
Article 13 is uncompromising in attaining Hamas’s goal:
“There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. The Palestinian people know better than to consent to having their future, rights and fate toyed with.”
The 1968 PLO Charter is also clear in its intentions – with Article 9 declaring:
“Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. This it is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase. The Palestinian Arab people assert their absolute determination and firm resolution to continue their armed struggle and to work for an armed popular revolution for the liberation of their country and their return to it. They also assert their right to normal life in Palestine and to exercise their right to self-determination and sovereignty over it.”
The last Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006 saw a Hamas landslide victory.
The polls resulted in a brief unity government but it soon collapsed and - in 2007 - bloody clashes erupted in the Gaza Strip between Hamas and the PLO - with Hamas ultimately seizing control of Gaza – leaving the PLO governing about 95% of the 'West Bank' Arab population who reside in Areas A and B of the 'West Bank' – the remaining 4-5% living in Area C being governed by Israel.
Numerous attempts at reconciliation between Hamas and the PLO - including a short-lived coalition government in 2014 - have failed to end the internecine power struggle between Hamas and the PLO.
No independent grass roots movement with a platform totally differentiating itself from the platforms of Hamas and the PLO is in the process of formation or likely to emerge - offering voters a real choice by including in its platform its readiness to seek an accommodation with Israel on the allocation of future sovereignty in the West Bank and Gaza.
Replacing the current leadership in Hamas and the PLO cannot wipe out the Hamas and PLO Charters nor their sinister objectives.
The long-suffering Arab residents of the West Bank and Gaza will once again have to choose between Hamas and the PLO – if the long-overdue elections actually happen.
No knight in shining armour is on the horizon.
Author’s note: The cartoon – commissioned exclusively for this article — is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones”- one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators – whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades. His cartoons can be viewed at Drybonesblog
David Singer is an Australian lawyer who is active in Zionist community organizations in that country. He founded the "Jordan is Palestine" Committee in 1979.