Shattering Democracy: Sharon’s Plan for Palestine

Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, showed his true colors earlier this week as his normative praise of “democratic values” subsided. "I announced as clearly as I could that we formally oppose Hamas participation in the election as long as it is not disarmed and has not cancelled the Hamas charter, which is a horrible document," Sharon stated on Wednesday. On Saturday, he went further in an interview with reporters in New York, rejecting calls for democratic elections in the Occupied Territories, "We will make every effort not to help [the Palestinians]. I don’t think they can have elections without our help."

Hamas plans to engage in the Palestinian political process, as it has in previous municipal elections, so why hinder the charged peace process after the successful “disengagement” of Gaza? Sharon realizes that Hamas is gaining momentum in the Occupied Territories and understands how much political power it can attain through sweeping parliamentary elections, which will likely occur in January if Israel doesn’t interfere. Keeping a balance of power between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas effectively destabilizes a unified Palestinian voice and further advantages a politically savvy Israel. Israel supported Hamas in the 1980’s as a counterweight to the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO)–”the de facto representative of the Palestinians people–”because the PLO was gaining political ground on the international front.

Sharon is trying to politically deligitimize Hamas by keeping it out of the elections, while demonizing Abu Mazen for not cracking down on “terror” and using the excuse of having “no partner for peace” as a ploy to further expand settlements, the Apartheid Wall, and to impose greater restrictions on Palestinian life in the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. Just this week as half the world was sleeping and the other half was still dazed by the effects of Hurricane Katrina, Sharon stated on Israeli radio referencing the controversial Maale Adumim settlement, "They {Maale Adumim and East Jerusalem}will be connected, and I don’t think that this will become a problem."

The militaristic mind of Ariel Sharon cannot forget the irony and hypocrisy in demanding Hamas to disarm. The three major Jewish militant–”many claim terrorist–”groups, the Haganagh, Irgun, and Lehi were not disarmed before the creation of Israel. On the contrary, they went on the offensive under the instruction of Haganagh leader David Ben Gurion on March 10, 1948 when the groups implemented Plan Dalet (Plan D). The effects of Plan D led to the dispossession of hundreds of thousands of indigenous Palestinians and the massacre of nearly 120 Palestinians at Deir Yassin. There was no attempt by these Jewish groups to put their faith in the political process and live with the indigenous population in peace; rather they coveted the land on which the Palestinians lived, and sought to expel them to create a Jewish homeland. Hamas is doing something the founders of Israel never thought to do: assimilate into the political process in the land on which they live, and substantiate their voice by positive means. If the founders of Israel and people like Ariel Sharon had done this, armed groups such as Hamas wouldn’t be fighting against the injustices that have plagued Palestinian society for the last 58 years.