A voter registration office was opened in the Gaza Strip by the political rivals Hamas and Fatah last week, bringing the region one step forward toward presidential and parliamentary elections. These are set to happen later this spring, and we could see once more the two rivals pit against each other in a democratic process. But as this step is taken, and Palestine moves toward yet another election, will this really change much of anything in the region? Will peace prevail? It’s hard to see that as a likely outcome with everything that goes on behind the scenes.
We all recall how the last elections went. In 2006, Hamas won the elections, and it took a year until they managed to get control over Gaza, which they had to wrestle by force. Meanwhile, nearly the whole world considers them as a terrorist group, because of a multitude of attacks on civilians, which they say were provoked by Israel military forces.
Meanwhile, Israel isn’t sitting by, and is arresting any member of Hamas it can find, accusing them of being terrorists, some of which were actually planning to be delegates in the coming election. Tensions aren’t any lower than they’ve been in decades, and while a few people actively work toward peace, there’s a lot of anger in the air. Regardless who wins this election, once again it won’t be done without violence, that much is certain. History is very plain, and tends to repeat itself, especially when it comes to this region of the world.
On the one hand, if Hamas wins, then the situation will be the same as in 2006, with few countries recognizing them as a legitimate organization, and few people willing to let them take power without violence. On the other hand, if Fatah wins, it will be hailed by the world as a victory for peace, which will anger Hamas and they are unlikely to sit still, prompting once again more violence. The situation has been going on for decades, and there seems to be no solution in sight.
Imposing peace has never worked without a strong military presence behind, and everyone is careful not to appear biased or to provoke the anger of the world powers. As a result, the same things keep happening, with Israel trying to bring some order to what they consider their lands, prompting retaliation strikes on civilian populations, which in turn brings more violence. It’s a circle that won’t be broken by yet another round of elections.
Overall, it’s still nice to see a peace process go forward, and this action of a new voting booth should be applauded. But in reality, it’s unlikely to change much at all.