Electioneering in Israel and Palestine

It's probably a bad idea for parliamentary election campaigns to be held at the same time for the Israeli parliament (the Knesset) and the Palestinian Authority. The opportunity for brinkmanship, provocation, violence, and stirring up of revanchiste passions is not conducive for election results that all participants can live with.

Two incidents reported today are clearly aimed at helping Likud in the Israeli elections, but they seem more likely to have an impact on the Palestinian vote.

First, the BBC reports that a row has erupted between the Israeli and Palestinian authorities over the decision to bar Palestinians living in Jerusalem from voting in the Palestinian election next month (January 15 2006).

The Israeli government's argument is that allowing East Jerusalem's Palestinians to vote would give Hamas power. It is hard to see that preventing some Palestinians from voting will encourage the others to vote for moderate candidates. In fact, the decision allows the Palestinian Authority's ruling party to cancel the election and blame the Israelis.

Second, as if to underscore the notion among Palestinians that Hamas is the real power in the Palestinian Authority, news that Zayid Khalil Moussa, a commander of the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades (a leading Hamas terrorist group) has been killed in a shoot-out with Israeli troops in Jenin. One Israeli border guard was wounded.

Both incidents are of course aimed at encouraging Israeli voters to back either Likud or the new Kadima party, in advance of their March 28 2006 showdown.

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