Times Online – World holds its breath as Hamas prepares for powe

In the end it was a landslide. Hamas, the Islamic militant group, won 76 votes in the Palestinian parliamentary elections, compared to 43 for President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement.

The Election Commissioner announced first preliminary results at 7.15pm (1715 GMT), revealing the extent of the change to the Palestinian political landscape.

They are based on 95 per cent of the votes counted. Thanks to the complexity of the voting system, final results will not be due until tomorrow.

Anticipating the news, supporters of Hamas rushed the 132-seat Palestinian parliament this afternoon, hoisting their emerald green crescent flag above the building as the new regime symbolically took control. Celebrations in Gaza and the West Bank, muted by uncertainty this morning over the extent of the Islamic militant organisation’s shock victory, exploded onto the streets.

I’m inclined to look on the bright side. Fatah’s corruption problem is going to get a lot better real quick.

Update:

Tim Blair has another excellent round up. He seems to be concentrating on the pro-terrorism negativity of the story, rather than the anti-corruption angle that I’ve chosen to dwell more happily on.

And the fame-will-never-change-him Mr Seat links to a Deutsche Welle column which looks ahead, a little.

Update II:

Got this from today’s Best of the Web, and it helps to explain why I’m choosing to be optimistic.

NRO – Hamas Without Veils: No more hiding behind the PA. By Emanuele Ottolenghi

What victory does to Hamas is to put the movement into an impossible position. As preliminary reports emerge, Hamas has already asked Fatah to form a coalition and got a negative response. Prime Minister Abu Ala has resigned with his cabinet, and president Abu Mazen will now appoint Hamas to form the next government. From the shadows of ambiguity, where Hamas could afford–thanks to the moral and intellectual hypocrisy of those in the Western world who dismissed its incendiary rhetoric as tactics–to have the cake and eat it too. Now, no more. Had they won 30-35 percent of the seats, they could have stayed out of power but put enormous limits on the Palestinian Authority’s room to maneuver. By winning, they have to govern, which means they have to tell the world, very soon, a number of things.

They will have to show their true face now: No more masks, no more veils, no more double-speak. If the cooptation theory–favored by the International Crisis Group and by the former British MI-6 turned talking head, Alistair Crooke–were true, this is the time for Hamas to show what hides behind its veil.

As the government of the Palestinian Authority, now they will have to say whether they accept the roadmap.

They will have to take control over security and decide whether they use it to uphold the roadmap or to wage war.

There will be no excuses or ambiguities when Hamas fires rockets on Israel and launches suicide attacks against civilian targets. Until Tuesday, the PA could hide behind the excuse that they were not directly responsible and they could not rein in the “militants.” Now the “militants” are the militia of the ruling party.

The other thing is: Power corrupts, especially in that part of the world. And I have a feeling that the idealistic ambition of annihilating Israel will start to look a whole lot less important than getting to live in nice, guarded compounds and have a private driver take you to meetings with UN officials at nice restaurants.

You see? There’s even a bright side to the persistent and inevitable corruption in the Arab world!

If they bomb Israel from Gaza — not under occupation anymore, and is therefore, technically, part of the Palestinian state the PLO proclaimed in Algiers in 1988, but never bothered to take responsibility for — that is an act of war, which can be responded to in kind, under the full cover of the internationally recognized right of self-defense. No more excuses that the Palestinians live under occupation, that the PA is too weak to disarm Hamas, that violence is not the policy of the PA.

And doesn’t that play nicely into the settlement pullouts this past summer?

Update III:

Jimmy Carter is making it very difficult for me to cling to my optimism.