The election of the Palestinian Legislative Council will take place next Wednesday, January 25. Obviously, they’ll have an influence on the orientation of the Palestinian Authority. Hamas participation in this election is an unprecedented situation. If a secular coalition takes power, Israel could be invited to start political negotiations. However, a strong Hamas could reject all negotiations and strengthen all those who prefer partial and unilateral initiatives in Israel. Whatever the result is, Palestinian elections will have a strong impact on Israeli elections which will be held within two months.
Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud opposes a new withdrawal, Kadima prefers unilateral withdrawals, the left wants negotiations and the Labourites are against the division of Jerusalem and have not supported the Geneva initiative. With regard to this, Amir Peretz’s victory as the head of the Labour Party is a refreshing element, although some members of the party left it and joined Kadima.
This party wants to represent the centre, something that has never worked well in Israel. Nonetheless, it’s very popular because of Ariel Sharon’s hospitalization. Whatever the result is, Kadima won’t be able to rule alone. It will have to look for alliances with the right or the Labourites. The orientation of the coalition will depend on the result of the Palestinian elections.

La Vanguardia (Spain)

«Dos campañas electorales», by Yossi Beilin, La Vanguardia, January 22, 2006.