«Political earthquake», «electoral bomb», «peace process compromised», «victory of the terrorists», the mainstream media has reacted with virulence and apparent panic after the electoral victory of Hamas in the Palestinian legislative elections. Most of media experts did not see, or did not want to see, the increasing trend within the Palestinian people that rejects Al Fatah and its leaders, corrupted by the occupying forces. According to concordant studies, less than 15% of the Palestinian people want a transformation of their society according to the Islamic model but five times that amount voted for the Islamic movement, which embodies the Palestinian people’s resistance to oppression. Al Fatah, with a prevailing lay ideology, brought discredit on them when they started to advocate the end of the armed struggle soon after Yasser Arafat was buried. _The panic among «western» editorialists equals the blindness of media experts who thought that the electoral fixings would be enough to minimize the victory of Hamas and to prevent them from obtaining the majority of seats. The United States and Israel made all possible efforts to change the results of the ballot: significant funding by the USAID to Al Fatah, assassination of Islamic candidates by the Israeli army, vote prohibition imposed by Israel on almost 94% of voters in eastern Jerusalem; that is why everyone agreed on thinking that Hamas would obtain little room in a government of national unity. Then, it would be forced to «acquire responsibility» and walk the same path previously walked by Al Fatah. It was even possible to predict an implosion in Hamas that would be divided into two trends: a «pragmatic» one in favour of negotiating, as stated in the «Road Map», and a second and radical group, isolated and without support.

That was the approach of Hussein Agha, former professor at Oxford, and also of Robert Malley, Bill Clinton’s former special envoy for Arab-Israeli relations. In an article published in The Guardian, the Boston Globe, the International Herald Tribune and The Age, both writers expressed their hope to peacefully integrate Hamas to the policy followed by Al Fatah, an opinion that they both had already developed in May 2005.]. Until then, Hamas had been praised for the services paid to the Palestinians, but both Agha and Malley affirmed that, once associated to power, they would be held responsible for the bad living conditions of the population and that, in order to improve them, they would have to toughen their position with regards to Israel or to divide itself into a radical wing and a trend more conciliatory towards Tel Aviv.
This analysis was also made by Robert Malley in Le Monde. In this version of the former article, the author was more specific as to the methods to integrate Hamas speaking of financial support from the European Union to the municipalities controlled by the Islamic party if they renounced to violence.

An Israeli-Arab citizen, Marwan Bishara, professor at the American university in Paris, predicted in La Vanguardia and in Le Figaro a good result for Hamas, although leaving them in minority. For the analyst, the result would allow Hamas to participate in the government of the Palestinian Authority, to change its opposition to the negotiations and to support Mahmud Abbas, who would be re-legitimized in front of the Israelis. Thus, after the elections, the author recommended the design of a program of national unity with the participation of the main Palestinian political forces. _Using a comparable estimate of the results, former Jordanian Information Minister, Saleh Alkallab, expressed in Asharqalawsat that Hamas would not participate in the government, although he did not leave out, as much as Agha and Malley, the possibility of Hamas winning the elections. He hoped that in the event of a victory of Hamas, a government of national unity would be created and that the Islamic movement would follow the same policy as Al Fatah. Above all, the author wanted to avoid a confrontation among different Palestinian groups.

As it can be seen, most media analysts hoped that the elections would not change in a significant way the policy followed by the Palestinian Authority and that Mahmud Abbas would come out of the elections in a more solid position.
For Yossi Beilin, a Yahad Parliament member and main negotiator for Israel in the «Geneva accords», a strengthening of the position of Mahmud Abbas is essential for the electoral future of his party and the Israeli left that is getting ready for the upcoming March 28 elections. In La Vanguardia, he predicts a victory of Kadima, the party of Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert. However, this party will not be able to govern alone, what made Meilin believe that if a «pragmatic» coalition won the elections in Palestine, Kadima would ally with the Labour Party and then negotiations could resume and his party could re-emerge. On the contrary, in the event of a victory for Hamas, Kadima would undoubtedly ally with the Likud Party leaving no space for any negotiation. Thus, the Israeli parliament member implicitly recognized that regardless of who is heading the Palestinian Authority, Israeli-Palestinian relations depend on who is in the coalition in power in Israel.

Contrary to this consensual approach, Palestinian editorialist of Alquds- Alarabi, Abdel Bari Atouan, before the elections took place, expressed his desire for a change in an outstanding editorial that reflected the opinion of the majority of the Palestinian people which would be expressed later in the ballot boxes. Thus, the author called for a political alternation without speaking of a victory for Hamas and asked the future government to put an end to corruption, to judge the corrupt leaders and to negotiate with Israel but without re-considering the right to return or the creation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. _It was also the position defended by Hamas, but let us recall that it was also the position of a minority of Al Fatah members who were able to resist the green seaquake. _That is the case of former representative of the Palestinian Authority for the affairs in Jerusalem and new representative of the Palestinian Authority in France, Hind Khoury, who denounced in The Guardian the intimidation campaign and the administrative obstacles that prevented 94% of Palestinians living in East Jerusalem from voting. In reference to the US rhetoric about the Palestinian reform as a premise for peace, she affirms that that’s not the way it is and that they will advance in the peace process.

However, the rhetoric of «democratization» of the Middle East has its limits and the reaction of the United States and Tel Aviv after the results of the elections has soon proven it.
Before the elections, the USAID had significantly financed the campaign of Al Fatah aiming at limiting the huge popularity of its Islamic electoral rival. As soon as the results became public, the United States and its allies reconsidered the humanitarian assistance given to the Palestinian Authority, while Israel has already frozen the funds of the Palestinian Authority, also banning Hamas Parliament members from travelling from Gaza to the West Bank. Thus, after buying the leaders of Al Fatah, but after failing to buy Palestinian voters, Washington and Tel Aviv have decided to ruin the Palestinian Authority and to prevent the newly elected government to carry on with its responsibilities. _US President George W. Bush commented on the electoral results during a press conference. He criticized them without questioning them and affirmed that the United States will never have a dialogue with a government that advocates the destruction of Israel. He denied the fact that the USAID helped Al Fatah, although he reiterated his desire that Mahmud Abbas continues in his post. It is necessary to note that Bush’s position is paradoxical. Actually, the Hamas Charter does not envisage the destruction of Israel, while Mahmud Abbas’s Al Fatah did, although this goal was abandoned after the signing of the Oslo Accords between Arafat and Rabin in 1993. Thus, it is not only possible to negotiate with a group that advocates the destruction of Israel but also this argument does not apply in the case of Hamas. _The mainstream media have not said anything about this incoherence. On the contrary, most of them have reflected the US president’s opinion adapting to the new Palestinian Parliament majority the myth of the «absence of an Arab interlocutor» in the peace negotiations that worked so well in the past against Yasser Arafat. Thus, most of the journals have made a drama out of the victory of Hamas and they have started to devote many of their pages to denouncing the crimes committed by Hamas and to condemn, that is fair, the attacks against civilians, but they ignore the context of the occupation and the crimes perpetrated by the Israeli army.

Former general director of the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry, Shlomo Avineri, insists in the absence of an «Arab interlocutor» in an article spread by Project Syndicate. This article was published by the Jordan Times, the Korea Herald, the Daily Star and certainly in many other media outlets and in the Internet. As always, thanks to its spreading ability, Project Syndicate can have a significant influence in the media debate. We hope to find Avineri’s article in many newspapers in the coming days and, above all, to see how many analysts endorse it. For the author, the victory of Hamas not only shows that it is impossible to reach a negotiated peace with the Arabs but also that the gap between Israelis and Palestinians widens more and more. He uses this argument to support his party, the Kadima, and the policy of unilateral withdrawal, that is, the implementation of a policy to control as much territory as possible with the lesser number of troops.

So, it is not strange that the US extreme right wing goes even farther. The administrator of the US Institute of Peace and president of the Middle East Forum, Daniel Pipes, calls for the isolation of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in the National Post and in The Australian. He compares this election to the election of Hitler in Germany in 1933 and he calls the «West» to punish Palestinians for having chosen Hamas. He adds that it should also serve as a lesson and that it is necessary to reduce the pace of the «democratization» process in the Middle East to facilitate the eradication of the «radical Islam». Thus, the author expresses his opposition to the support given by certain US elites to fundamentalist movements to remodel the region.
Sharing the conclusions of Daniel Pipes, neoconservative analyst Joel Mowbray also calls for the isolation of the Palestinian Authority also expressing his satisfaction over the victory of Hamas in the Washington Times. He notes that Al Fatah was worse than Hamas because it was apparently committed with the Road Map but was carrying out terrorist operations with the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Israel had duties with this organization which it does not keep with Hamas, so there are reasons to be pleased.

Abdel Bari Atouan has seen the triumph of the political program he supports but he expresses his alarm in Al Quds Al Arabi due to the «western» position. He notes that the current situation in Palestine is similar to the one that existed in Algeria in 1991: Palestinians, as Algerians then, have voted against a corrupt government but, unlike the Algerian military, Mahmud Abbas accepted the results. It is Israel, the United States and Europe the ones who do not accept them, like Arab regimes that use the fear of Islamic fundamentalists to remain in power. Hamas will not receive support from the Arab countries, the European Union or the United States, so, the author concludes, they could seek the help of Iran.

The spokesman for the Muslim Association of Britain and Director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought, Azzam Tamimi expresses his delight in The Guardian over the victory of Hamas and tries to reconsider a number of common places associated to this movement that have been spread by the mainstream media. For him, the experts’ theories presented before the elections about the intentions of the Palestinians had no sense. He says that Palestinians voted to change the terms of the peace process. Thus far, the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, when they took place, were based on the principle that Palestinians were the aggressors and that the main problem was terrorism. From now on, negotiations must be based on the principle that Israel is the aggressor and that the occupation is the main problem. The author recalls that Sheikh Yassin had said that a return to the 1967 borders would end the military actions of Hamas, at least, for a generation. These words were confirmed in the interview with the spokesman for Hamas, Moshir al-Masri, that we published in our web site. Therefore, the author concludes that a negotiation with Hamas has to be accepted like that of London with the IRA.