Thursday, October 20, 2005

Let Hamas Participates

In 2000, when I was a peacekeeper in Bosnia, I was my opinion then that the banning of the Bosnia Serb Radical Party (SRS) from participating in the Bosnian election was a bad idea. It is true that the ideology by the SRS was abhorrent – it advocates racism and many of its members were indicted for war crime. But by banning the SRS from election, the OSCE strengthened Serb ultra-nationalism and radicalism. And the election of 2000 precisely did that. SRS supporters simply voted for the next radical and extreme party, the Bosnian Serbian Democratic Party, ensuring the electoral defeat of the much more liberal government who was in power.

Let not repeat the same mistake in Palestine. There is a suggestion that Hamas should be banned from the electoral process. As I argue before, let them participate in the electoral process. For democracy to be credible, all who want to participate must be allowed to participate. We cannot and should not pick and choose who get to run for election. And as I argued before, I am not concerned with Hamas winning election. I am more concerned with the prospect that they are barred from the electoral process. It will not weaken Hams. It will in fact strengthen them politically and discredit the whole electoral process.

Also let not confuse the disarmament with the electoral issue. They are two separate tracks. We must press for the Palestinian Authority to disband all armed groups to include Hamas, Islamist Jihad, and other belligerents. And we should provide whatever assistance we can to President Abbas so that he can carry out the task. But while that is going on – free and fair election should be extended to everyone – even the most repugnant.

Related articles:
(1) Defeating Hamas (Washington Post)
(2) A Vote for Hamas? (Washington Post)


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12:39 AM  

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