Better than Wikileaks: Fatah sought to call off 2006 elections
The polls all said that Fatah was going to win the 'Palestinian elections' in 2006, but Fatah knew better. According to top Bush White House aide Elliott Abrams, whom I had the pleasure of meeting briefly last week along with his wife Bad Rachel
, Fatah tried to cancel the 2006 'Palestinian elections.' There was just one small catch: They wanted Israel to take the fall for it by forbidding 'Palestinians' in Jerusalem from voting. And so, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said no
“If you look at what all the polls were saying, [Palestinian pollster Khalil] Shikaki, BBC polls, our own polls, they were all saying Fatah would win. The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) was saying that, until the last few weeks. And then people began to say, ‘Uh oh.’ So at the very end the Palestinians got scared, and some of them said to Israel and the US that they might lose, so let’s call off the election,” Abrams said.
According to Abrams, the Palestinians seized on the voting in Jerusalem as a possible pretext to cancel the elections, since this issue has been debated amid questions of how and where Palestinians would vote.
“The Palestinians said to Sharon, ‘Why don’t you say no voting in Jerusalem. Zero. Not in the post offices [where voting was allowed in 1995]. Zero. And this will be a reason to call off the election.’”
Sharon, according to Abrams, “said he was not going to take the blame for this. He said, ‘If you want to call off the elections, call off the election, I don’t care. If you want to have an election, great; if you want to call off the election, great. But you do it – I’m not taking the blame for it.’” The Palestinians, Abrams said, then came to the Americans with a request that they call off the elections.
The American reaction was that the US doesn’t call off elections just a few days before they are scheduled, “because it looks like you’re not going to win anymore. That’s ridiculous.
Your job is to win the election, go out and work, and get your people to the polls and win the damn election. So the election was held, and Hamas won.”
Abrams said that in retrospect, it was a mistake not to find a pretext to call off the elections. He also said that it was Abu Mazen who insisted that Hamas be allowed to run and that Ariel Sharon and Tzipi Livni, along with unnamed American officials, were opposed to the election from the outset.
Abrams said the opposition of some in the US administration was not because of a fear that Hamas would win – “they thought Hamas would lose” – but rather because they said that “terrorists have to lay down their arms before they can participate in elections. Read the whole thing
They said this was an important principle in Northern Ireland, and for Kosovo.”
In the end, Abrams said, both the US and the EU accepted Abbas’s argument.
In September 2005, thensecretary of state Condoleezza Rice moved the American position on Hamas participation in the elections, saying that the US stand was no longer that the organization could not take part in the elections until it laid down its arms, but rather that it couldn’t participate in the government until it had set aside its weapons.
“Until then, she said you can’t run, now she said you can run but you can’t participate,” Abrams said. “Then Hamas won, and she said in January what she said in September, that they couldn’t participate in the government until they laid down their arms.”
As a result of that policy, the US and other countries boycotted the Hamas government, Abrams said.
“In retrospect I think we made a mistake, obviously,” he said. “The initial principle was correct: that people should not be allowed to compete in an election with guns in their hands, because it gives them an unfair advantage in the elections.”
. The full interview (which sounds fascinating) will appear in Friday's JPost.
Labels: Abu Mazen, Ariel Sharon, Elliott Abrams, Fatah, Hamas, Palestinian elections 2006, Tzipi Livni