Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Fatah party, has again canceled elections because of fears that Hamas supporters or independent parties will fill the growing leadership vacuum in the PA, the Associated Press reported Saturday.
The rival Hamas faction had announced it would boycott local elections that were supposed to be held next month. Fatah, instead of rushing for an easy victory without Hamas opposition, cancelled the balloting because it faced loss of power to independents, ranging from communists to proclaimed terror organizations.
"We are in crisis because we couldn’t make peace and can’t make war, we couldn’t achieve our national rights by negotiations or by war," said Hatem Abdel Khader, a senior Fatah member quoted by AP.
The PA fling with Western-style democracy in the first and legislative elections in 2006, shocked then-U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who initially could not believe that Hamas beat Fatah in the vote for PA parliament members.
The previous year, Abbas beat Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in the vote for PA chairman, but the Hamas military coup in Gaza three years ago has precluded another vote due to the PA in effect consisting of two separate entities, one in Gaza and one in Judea and Samaria.
Ramallah-based PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has positioned himself to succeed Abbas, but his being handpicked by the Americans for his present post has made him suspect among the rank and file. Corrupt Fatah leaders dislike Fayyad’s current academic approach to rebuilding the local Arab economy without obvious bribery. Fayyad is as anti Israel as Abbas, and spearheads the boycott against products of Judea and Samaria.
The Obama administration has pressured Israel to agree to a long line of concessions to the PA in order to bolster the popularity of Abbas, but the PA has used its fledgling army, trained by the United States, to use terrorist tactics against pockets of Hamas strength. In addition, PA terrorists have murdered and wounded dozens of Israelis following Israel’s agreement to remove roadblocks that were a key to maintaining security for Jewish residents in Judea and Samaria.
Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki said last week, "The public is likely to view the cancellation as an indication of a major failure in state and institution-building, a process led by Fayyad and his government, and an indication of the fragmentation, panic and lack of leadership within Fatah."