Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said, "Israel made clear in the last few months that the participation of Hamas in the Palestinian Authority elections is totally against any kind of democratic values. Israel cannot communicate with terrorist organisations."
Indeed, neither can the United States accept Hamas since they certainly qualify as "a terrorist organization of international reach." Neither would any elected Hamas individuals be inclined to continue the peace process. Their goal is to eliminate Israel, not make peace with them.
With Ariel Sharon out of power and the election of members of Hamas seeming imminent, it appears that the Roadmap to Peace is effectively dead. Granted, it's likely the entire peace process would ultimately be killed by the growing tensions between Israel and Iran over Iran's pursuit of nuclear technology, but now it seems that the Palestinian people are poised to elect representatives that would scuttle the process regardless of external factors.
None of this should come as a surprise. Israel and the US have both been warning for months that Hamas militants would not be acceptable if elected. That they are being allowed to run and that there appears to be widespread public support for their candidacy demonstrates just how wide the rift is between the Palestinian Authority that is negotiating peace and the will of the people they allegedly represent.
2006 will be a time of increased strife in the Middle East. Any "land for peace" deal will end the moment Hamas terrorists are elected to any public office this week. With hope for peace with the PA eliminated, Israel will likely seek to reestablish their settlements in Gaza. They will also be free to assume a more aggressive stance with Iran, no longer feeling constrained to avoid hurting the fragile peace process.
Watch this week's elections carefully. The outcome will set the tone of conflict in the Middle East for the next several years. Electing terrorists to public positions will be a sure sign that the peace process has ended.
Technorati: politics news Hamas Israel Palestine Palestinian Authority
IceRocket: politics news Hamas Israel Palestine Palestinian Authority