Preventing a Hamas Victory in the Palestinian Elections

The last time elections were held for the Palestinian Legislative Council—the Palestinian Authority’s parliament—was 2016, and the result was a victory for Hamas. A brief civil war subsequently broke out in the Gaza Strip between Hamas and its rival Fatah, leading to Hamas’s control of the territory. Recently, the Palestinian Authority (PA), which remains under Fatah’s control, set a date for new elections in May. Michael Milstein analyzes whether they will happen, and the possible results:

Today, the Palestinians find themselves at the closest point to holding an election since 2006, arriving here after a decade and half of repeated failures in efforts at internal reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. [But the chances] that this election will really take place remains foggy. And even if it does happen, there is the growing sense that it would redound more to the reputation of Hamas than that of Fatah. As such, the prospect of an election will probably face new challenges and even threats from the PA, Israel, and to a great extent the moderate Arab camp and the West as well.

Therefore, looking ahead, it is already vital to establish close consultation and coordination regarding this election among all of the following: Israel, the PA, the main Arab actors—especially Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE—and the international community, with the United States in the lead. Without this concerted effort, we are all likely to witness a replay of the 2006 election, a process that will dramatically alter the very nature of Palestinian affairs by weakening the nationalist trend and strengthening the Islamist one under the leadership of Hamas.

The best, most urgent way to avoid repeating that tragic mistake today would be . . . to stipulate that Hamas could participate in the election only after it convincingly accepts the conditions previously agreed to by Israel, the PA, the United States, . . . Russia, the EU, and the UN. That means recognizing Israel, renouncing violence, and accepting all previous Palestinian-Israeli political agreements. And if Hamas continues to refuse, then it must bear the onus of aborting the first Palestinian election in fifteen years.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Fatah, Hamas, Palestinian Authority

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy