By Dr. Elias Akleh *
Election is a political tool that helps people to democratically elect their political representatives. Like any tool the benefits of election are determined by its use. Lately election has been employed to oppress people rather than serving them. Palestinian election is such a clear example.
We have seen elections being manipulated to install and impose in a government a certain group of people, who would enslave rather than serve the people. This happens even in the so-called most democratic country such as the U.S., where at least the last three elections had been manipulated for such a purpose.
Part of the American “War on Global Terror” has been the toppling, in one way or the other, of present political regimes in the Greater Middle East, as referred to by the administration, and the installation of new pro-American puppet regimes through manipulation of election. The American administration claimed that it is spreading freedom and democracy to other countries; and what is a better way of spreading democracy other than election.
The American administration accused Afghanistan of harboring Al-Qaeda terrorist group. So the G.I. boys were sent to topple down Afghanistan’s regime and to install UNOCAL’s Hamid Karzai as President in December 2004. Evidence of widespread fraud in last month’s (September 09) Afghanistan election has been broadcasted all over the news media.
Similar events took place in Iraq. Under the false claims of developing WMD and supporting terrorism, the US attacked Iraq abolishing Saddam’s Baath regime. American supervised election in Iraq in December 15, 2005 installed the pro-American Nouri al-Maliki puppet regime. Under the pretence of giving all Iraqi citizens, especially those living in Europe and the US, the opportunity to vote, special designated voting centers were built for those Iraqis to cast their votes. These votes, whether casted by real Iraqis or were fraudulent, had no doubt swayed the election into the pro-American direction.
War is only one way of imposing pre-arranged election onto a nation. Political pressure, propaganda, and financing the opposition to cause velvet revolutions are other ways of changing the result of an election. James Baker was sent to Georgia to arrange for a velvet revolution resulting in the election of Mikkhail Saakashvili in January 2004. In Lebanon the American Ambassador Michele Sison was more active than any Lebanese politician in supporting the March 14th Alliance financially and politically in the June 2009 election resulting in the appointment of the politically inexperienced pro-Western Saad Hariri as Prime Minister. Up till today the American meddling in the Lebanese affairs had caused the failure of forming a national-unity cabinet. This failure is aimed at giving the US, as well as France, the opportunity to offer their help to form the Lebanese cabinet.
Palestinian election is not different than the previously mentioned elections. In January 2005 a mockery election was played on the Palestinians through which Mahmoud Abbas was “elected” as the president. Tired and exhausted by the corruption and treachery of Abbas and his gang, Palestinians decided to play the election game and voted in January 2006 for Hamas to form the Legislative Council and the government. This came as an unexpected surprise to Abbas, Israel, and the US, who later on conspired to sabotage Hamas government and to topple it down (see Vanity Fair’s “The Gaza Bombshell“). The democratically elected Hamas was declared a terrorist group, Israel imposed a siege on Gaza, and eventually perpetrated war crimes and crimes against humanity during its onslaught on Gaza last December 2008 to finish off Hamas government but unsuccessful.
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The self-proclaimed democratic US, EU, and the fake only-democratic country; Israel, in the Middle East did not like the result of the democratically elected Palestinian government. So they opposed it.
After three years of violent opposition Hamas government survived and gained more popularity and support within occupied Palestine and in the rest of the Arab and Moslem World.
With the encouragement of the US, Israel, and some Arab regimes, Abbas decreed to hold presidential and legislative elections on 24th of January 2010. It is important to remember that according to the Palestinian constitution Abbas’ presidency had expired last January 2009, and that he should be replaced by the head of the Legislative Council until new presidential election takes place. For the last ten months Abbas had violated the laws and the constitution by forcing himself into the presidency. All his decisions during this period including the election are unconstitutional and illegal.
Abbas’ calling for election came in the wrong time and has served to draw attention away from Goldstone’s report and from Israeli war crimes. Instead of concentrating efforts to take Israel to the International Criminal Court for its crimes, Abbas’ call is sidetracking these efforts and attention towards illusive election. Instead of working on national reconciliation and unity Abbas is increasing Palestinian division.
Such election is aimed at neutralizing Hamas, and installing a new Palestinian government under the possible leadership of Muhammad Dahlan, who has been thrown back onto the political stage, and is been prepped for presidency. The new government is to give more concessions to Israel.
Election is meant to punish, to illegitimize, and to further isolate Hamas government for not signing the Egyptian sponsored reconciliation agreement after it was changed to give Abbas absolute power.
To guarantee the defeat of Hamas in any future election Abbas’ security forces as well as the Israeli army have been arresting Hamas leaders in the West Bank and closing all its charitable institutions. Starving and murdering Palestinians in Gaza has been pointed to as the fate of West Bank Palestinians if they elect Hamas.
Election is a tool used to suppress Palestinian national interests. Palestinians in occupied Palestine are under occupation and under threat of violence and starvation. They do not have real freedom to elect representatives. There is no guarantee that election would not be manipulated by Israel and Abbas’ Palestinian Authority. There are no guarantees that the results of election would be recognized and respected by Israel, US and EU. Previous experience; the fate of elected Hamas government, justifies such fears.
One important point that is purposely ignored is the fact that the Palestinian Authority should represent ALL Palestinians not just those under occupation. Palestinians in refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Europe and the US also have the right to elect their representative. These Palestinians should have the opportunity to vote similar to the opportunity given to Iraqis in Diaspora to vote in 2005. Such opportunity is denied for the knowledge that Abbas’ Fatah gang would certainly lose.
Palestinian election under the Israeli occupation is a big joke. It is meant to give the illusion of Palestinian freedom and autonomy, and to keep the people busy with something other than their legitimate resistance to the occupation. Palestinians can regain their country and assert their rights only by resisting the Israeli occupation and not by fake elections.
* Dr. Elias Akleh is an Arab writer from a Palestinian descent born in the town of Beit Jala. His family was first evicted from Haifa after the “Nakba” of 1948, then from Beit Jala after the “Nakseh” of 1967. He lives now in the US, and publishes his articles on the web in both English and Arabic.