There is more uncertainty than clarity surrounding the upcoming Palestinian elections although there is something clear: Hamas, designated a terrorist organization by the United States and Europe and a mortal enemy of Israel, will be joining the legislature. It is possible that it may win a sizeable portion of votes and, who knows, a seat at the cabinet table.
Hamas’s decision to enter the political realm took long to come but it hardly is a surprise. Unlike Al Fatah, Hamas not only aims at achieving independence through armed struggle and diplomacy but also at transforming the Palestinian society in its social and religious aspects. Hamas began the armed struggle somewhat late, first against Israeli soldiers and settlers and then against civilians. However, on various occasions Hamas offered to stop attacking civilians if Israel did the same. Today, Hamas is enjoying the fruit of the incapacity of the Palestinian Authority to protect their people and the Palestinians’ disillusionment regarding negotiations. The unilateral pullout from Gaza also made them believe that violence has a more significant impact on the negotiations.
Hamas accepted to temporarily stop its attacks and participated in the municipal elections. We note that, as long as Hamas remains in the opposition, they will be praised for the services rendered, but as soon as they are elected they will be blamed for what is wrong. However, the Islamic movement knows very well that Palestinians’ daily life depends on their relations with Israel. Thus, Hamas’ speech could remain intact but it is also possible that there might be a division between radicals and pragmatists within the organization.

International Herald Tribune (France)
The International Herald Tribune is a version of the New York Times adapted for the European public. It works in direct association with Haaretz (Israel), Kathimerini (Greece), Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany), JoongAng Daily (South Korea), Asahi Shimbun (Japan), The Daily Star (Lebanon) and El País (Spain). It also works, through its head office, in indirect association with Le Monde (France).
The Guardian (United Kingdom)
The Age (Australia)
The Boston Globe (United States)

«Hamas has arrived - but there are limits to its advance», by Hussein Agha and Robert Malley, The Guardian, January 24, 2006.
« Hamas steps into a complex landscape», Boston Globe, January 24, 2006.
«Hamas at the table», International Herald Tribune, January 25, 2006.
«Hamas changes tack», The Age, January 25, 2006.