In siding so firmly with Mr. Abbas, the Bush administration is steering into new territory in its dealings with the Palestinians. It has essentially thrown its support behind the dismantling of a democratically elected government. Mr. Abbas’s decision to strip Hamas of its representation in the National Security Council and to form a new emergency government has already kindled a legal battle over whether he has overstepped his powers under the Palestinian constitution.
The American moves amount to a major step toward what some call a “West Bank first” strategy in which money, aid and international political recognition would be heaped on the West Bank, leaving Gaza to be ruled by Hamas, largely as its fief.
But Middle East experts said the Palestinian constitution might allow Mr. Abbas’s emergency government to remain in power for only 60 days, and Hamas, which won the last legislative elections, has indicated that it will not agree to new elections on Mr. Abbas’s timetable.
“We are going to support President Abbas and what he wants to do,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Monday in announcing the change in policy."...
“Everyone has looked over into the abyss and seen what happens when moderates don’t come together,” said David Makovsky, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “What we’re seeing now is a second chance for everybody.”...
The Associated Press reported that a Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, accused the international community of hypocrisy, noting that Hamas had defeated Fatah in parliamentary elections in 2006. “This confirms the falseness of the international community’s support for democracy,” he said.
Or, perhaps, the beginning of an acknowledgment that waving purple fingers in the air is not the be-all and end-all of what democracy means, or should mean, in the modern world.
Elections are the opiate of the people, as someone must have said.