Palestinian legislative election, 2006

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Palestinian legislative election, 2006
State of Palestine
1996 ←
25 January 2006 → Next

All 132 seats to the Palestinian Legislative Council
67 seats were needed for a majority
  First party Second party Third party
  Ismail Haniyeh.jpg
Leader Ismail Haniyeh Farouk Kaddoumi Ahmad Sa'adat
Party Change and Reform Fatah PFLP
Leader's seat Party-list Party-list Party-list
Last election boycott 55 seats boycott
Seats won 74 45 3
Seat change Increase 74 Decrease 10 Increase 3
Popular vote 440,409 410,554 42,101
Percentage 44.45% 41.43% 4.25%

  Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
  Mustafa barghouthi.jpg Salam Fayyad (cropped).jpg
Leader Qais Abd al-Karim Mustafa Barghouti Salam Fayyad
Party The Alternative Independent Palestine Third Way
Leader's seat Party-list Party-list Party-list
Last election n/a n/a n/a
Seats won 2 2 2
Seat change Increase 2 Increase 2 Increase 2
Popular vote 28,973 26,909 23,862
Percentage 2.92% 2.72% 2.41%

Palestinian legislative election 2006.png

Prime Minister before election

Ahmed Qurei

Elected Prime Minister

Ismail Haniyeh

PLC 2006: seats
Palestinian Parliament.svg
Political groups
     Hamas (74)
     Fatah (45)
     PFLP (3)
     Palestinian People's Party (1)
     Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (1)
     Independent Palestine (2)
     Third Way (2)
     Independents (4)
Palestine COA (alternative).svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Officeholders whose status is disputed are shown in italics

Elections for the second Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), the legislature of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), were held on 25 January 2006. The result was a victory for Change and Reform (Hamas), who won with 74 seats of the 132 seats, whilst the ruling Fatah won just 45. In terms of votes received, Change and Reform took 44.45% of the vote, whilst Fatah received 41.43%[1] and of the Electoral Districts, Change and Reform party candidates received 41.73% and Fatah party candidates received 36.96%. The parliament was inaugurated on 18 February 2006.[2]

The Prime Minister, Ahmed Qurei, resigned, but at the request of President Mahmoud Abbas, remained as interim Prime Minister until 19 February 2006, when Change and Reform and Hamas leader Ismail Haniya formed a new government.


The election of 2006 marked the second time Palestinians elected members to the Palestine Legislative Council; the previous general election had taken place in 1996. Elections had been postponed for many years due to discord between Fatah and Hamas. An agreement in March 2005 produced the Palestinian Cairo Declaration, which called for legislative elections with a mixed voting system (the 1996 elections had been based on the majority electoral system with multi-member constituencies.[3]

Palestinian voters in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) were eligible to participate in the election. Earlier, the 2005 municipal elections and the 9 January 2005 presidential election had taken place.

After the resounding victory of Hamas in these elections, Mahmoud Abbas unilaterally changed the voting system into a full proportional representation system by presidential decree, bypassing the disfunctional PLC.[4]

The United States had spent $2.3 million in USAID on support for the Palestinian elections, allegedly designed to bolster the image of President Abbas and his Fatah party. USAID’s Offices used discretionary spending accounts for various projects, including tree planting, schoolroom additions, a soccer tournament, street cleaning, and computers at community centers. USAID removed its usual branding requirement on its sponsored activities. The US was charged with trying to influence the outcome of the election.[5]

Electoral system[edit]

Map showing electoral districts and areas of formal Palestinian control (green)

The previous elections chose 88 PLC members from several multimember constituencies via block voting. In advance of the 2006 elections, Palestinian electoral law was changed to expand the PLC from 88 to 132 seats and create a degree of proportional representation via a parallel voting system. The mixed voting system divided the PLC election seats into two groups: 50% elected by proportional representation taking the OPT as one district and 50% by the majoritarian system in different districts.[4]

Each voter receives two ballots. On the first, the voter chooses one of several nationwide party lists. 66 of the PLC seats are distributed proportionally (in accordance with the Sainte-Laguë method) to those lists that receive more than 2% of the total list votes; if a list receives six seats, then the six candidates at the top of the list are elected to the PLC. Each list must include at least one woman in the first three names, at least one woman in the next four names, and at least one woman in the five names that follow.

The second ballot is for the voter's local constituency. The voter can cast up to as many votes for individual candidates as there are seats in his or her constituency. Votes are unweighted, and top-vote getters are elected to the PLC. For example, a voter in the Nablus district could cast up to six votes; the six candidates with the highest vote totals are elected.

In some constituencies, one or two seats are set aside for the Christian candidates with the most votes. For instance, in Ramallah, a five-seat constituency, the Christian candidate with the most votes will be elected to the PLC, even if he or she is not among top five candidates overall. The six seats reserved for Christians are considered the minimum quota for their representation in the council.[6][7]

The number of seats each electoral district receives is determined by its population; the breakdown is as follows:[6]



Before the 2006 election, the PLC was dominated by the Fatah movement, which held 68 of the 88 seats. However, Fatah had been beset by internal strife in advance of the elections, with younger and more popular figures like Mohammed Dahlan, who took part in the negotiations of the 1993 Oslo Accords, and Marwan Barghouti (the latter currently serving five life sentences in an Israeli jail on terrorism charges) levelling allegations of corruption against Fatah leadership. Fatah organised primary elections to determine its list members, but the results were disputed and central lists imposed in some areas. The younger faction submitted a list dubbed Al-Mustaqbal ("the Future"), headed by Barghouti. However, on December 28, 2005, the leadership of the two factions agreed to submit a single list to voters, headed by Barghouti, who began actively campaigning for Fatah from his jail cell. Despite this, the two groups were by no means fully reconciled.

List of Change and Reform[edit]

The main component of this list was the Islamist Hamas movement, Fatah's main rival on the Palestinian political scene. Hamas has refused to recognize the right of Israel to exist.[citation needed] Hamas refused to participate in the 1996 elections because it viewed the Palestinian Authority as illegitimate due to its negotiations with Israel[citation needed]; while it has not changed that stance[citation needed], it fielded candidates in 2006. Going into the election it had considerable momentum due to unexpected electoral success in the municipal elections in 2005.[citation needed]

The prospect of a Palestinian Authority dominated by Hamas alarmed Western governments,[citation needed] which almost universally consider it to be a terrorist group[citation needed], and which provide foreign aid that makes up almost half of the PNA's budget[citation needed]. It was fear of a Hamas victory that was largely credited with driving the reconciliation between the main Fatah list and the Al-Mustaqbal breakaway faction.[citation needed]

Independent Palestine[edit]

The Independent Palestine list was headed by Mustafa Barghouti, a distant relative of Marwan Barghouti. Mustafa Barghouti came in second in the Palestinian presidential election, 2005. The main component of this list was the Palestinian National Initiative. The list promised to fight corruption and nepotism, to demand the dismantling of the Israeli West Bank barrier, which it terms the "apartheid wall", and to provide "a truly democratic and independent 'third way' for the large majority of silent and unrepresented Palestinian voters, who favour neither the autocracy and corruption of the governing Fatah party, nor the fundamentalism of Hamas."[citation needed]

Abu Ali Mustafa[edit]

This list was formed by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and is named after Abu Ali Mustafa, the General Secretary of the PFLP who was assassinated by Israeli forces in 2001.[8][9][10] The PFLP is the second largest member of the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), after Fatah.

Third Way[edit]

The Third Way list was headed by Finance Minister Dr Salam Fayyad and former PA Minister of Higher Education and Research Hanan Ashrawi. Their platform focused on reform of the security forces, democratic improvements and socioeconomic progress.[11]

In the run up to the election a Fatah leader in Nablus accused the Third Way of receiving funds from the CIA.[12]

The Alternative[edit]

The The Alternative list was a coalition of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Palestinian People's Party, the Palestine Democratic Union (Fida), and various independents. The list was headed by Qais Abd al-Karim (Abou Leila) from the DFLP. The PPP candidate received 2.67% in the Palestinian presidential election, 2005. In the list vote, its best vote was 6.6% in Bethlehem, followed by 4.5% in Ramallah and al-Bireh and 4.0% in Nablus.


Also known as the National Coalition for Justice and Democracy, the Wa'ad list was headed by Gazan doctor Eyad El-Sarraj, who was a consultant to the Palestinian delegation to the Camp David 2000 Summit and heads a group of Palestinian and Israeli academics working towards a peace agreement.[11] The list's main platform is security reforms, establishing the rule of law and respect for human rights.

Opinion polls[edit]

The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research polled 1,316 adults in the West bank and Gaza strip in early December 2005 on their voting intentions for the legislative poll, which indicated the following support:[13]

  • Fatah: 50%
  • Change and Reform: 32%
  • Others: 9%
  • Undecided: 9%

A second poll by PCPSR between 29 December - 31 December covered 4560 potential voters and gave the following results:[14]

  • Fatah: 43%
  • Change and Reform: 25%
  • Independent Palestine: 5%
  • Martyr Abu Ali Mustafa: 3%
  • The Alternative: 2%
  • The Third Way: 2%
  • Undecided: 19%

No other lists were expected to exceed the 2% threshold.

A poll from Palestinian Public Opinion Polls, conducted 5 January and 6 January, covering 1360 persons, shows a further move away from Fatah:[15]

  • Fatah 39.3%
  • Change and Reform: 31.3%
  • Independent Palestine: 10.4%
  • Martyr Abu Ali Mustafa: 6.8%
  • The Third Way: 5.5%

No other lists were expected to exceed the 2% threshold.


Israeli obstruction[edit]

In the lead-up to the elections, Israel launched on 26 September 2005 a campaign of arrest against PLC members. 450 members of Hamas were detained, mostly involved in the 2006 PLC elections. The majority of them were kept in administrative detention for different periods.[16] In the election period, 15 PLC members were captured and held as political prisoners.[17]

During the elections, the Israeli authorities banned the candidates from holding election campaigns inside Jerusalem. Rallies and public meetings were prohibited. Also, the Jerusalem identity cards of some PLC members were revoked.[18] The Carter Center, which monitored the elections, criticised the detentions of persons who "are guilty of nothing more than winning a parliamentary seat in an open and honest election".[19]

Voting in East Jerusalem[edit]

On 21 December 2005, Israeli officials stated their intention to prevent voting in East Jerusalem, which, unlike most of the Palestinian-inhabited areas that are planned to participate in the election, is under Israeli civil and military control. (Israel annexed East Jerusalem in the wake of the Six-Day War; this move has not been recognized by most other governments, or by the PNA, which claims Jerusalem as a Palestinian capital.) Israel's stated motivation was not the argument about sovereignty over the area (Palestinian voters in East Jerusalem had been allowed to vote in previous PNA elections despite the dispute) but concern over Hamas' participation in—and potential victory in—the election. Muhammad Abu Tir, Mustafa Barghouti, and Hanan Ashrawi were all briefly detained by Israeli police when they attempted to campaign in East Jerusalem. In response, PNA officials stated that the election would not be held if East Jerusalem voters could not participate[20]—though this move was seen more as a pretext to postpone elections that Fatah might lose to Hamas than a debate over principle.

After privately agreeing to use the issue as a pretext for delaying the elections again so as to avoid Hamas electoral gains, Israeli and Palestinian officials raised the issue with the United States. But President George W. Bush made clear the elections should go forward as scheduled.[21]

On January 10, 2006, Israeli officials announced that a limited number of Palestinians in East Jerusalem would be able to cast votes at post offices, as they did in 1996. Palestinian candidates will also be allowed to campaign in East Jerusalem as long as they register with Israeli police—and, a police spokesman noted, "Anyone who is a supporter of Hamas will not receive permission."[22] The Israeli police arrested campaigners of Hamas and closed at least three Hamas election offices in East Jerusalem during the campaign.[23][24]

On the day of the election, the ballot boxes were held in Israeli Post Offices inside Jerusalem. Israeli police officers were present to monitor the proceedings of the election. At the end of the day the Israeli authorities transferred the ballot boxes to the Palestinian Authority.[16]


An 84-delegate international observer delegation monitored the elections. It judged the elections to have been peaceful and well-administered.[25] Twenty-seven members of the European parliament were included. Edward McMillan-Scott, the British Conservative head of the European Parliament's monitoring team described the polls as "extremely professional, in line with international standards, free, transparent and without violence". His colleague, Italian Communist MEP Luisa Morgantini said there was "a very professional attitude, competence and respect for the rules."[26] All polling stations closed on time (7 p.m.) except for East Jerusalem, where voting was extended by the permitted two extra hours. Hamas protested this extension, claiming it only served Fatah; the Central Elections Committee stated that voting hours were "extended upon the approval of the Israeli authorities due to lengthy queues as a result of obstructions by post office workers."[27]

The militant Islamist group Islamic Jihad called on Palestinians to boycott the election.

Exit polls[edit]

Exit polls indicated that Fatah emerged with more seats than Hamas, but not a majority of PLC seats. A poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research estimated that Fatah had won 42% of the national vote and Hamas 35%; the margin of error was 4%. Another exit poll, conducted by Birzeit University, largely viewed as the most authoritative estimation, had Fatah with 46.4% of the vote and Hamas with 39.5%; their tentative prediction of seat allocation had Fatah with 63 seats, four short of a majority; Hamas 58; the Martyr Abu Ali Mustafa list 3; The Third Way 2; Independent Palestine 2; The Alternative 2; and two independents.[28]

Leaders from both Hamas and Fatah, however, announced on Thursday morning that Hamas was expected to win a majority. Ismail Haniya, who topped the Change and Reform list claimed "Hamas has won more than 70 seats in Gaza and the West Bank".[29] Another Hamas leader, Musheer al-Masri claimed the party expected to win 77 seats. Aljazeera reported Fatah officials conceding defeat. Prime minister Ahmed Qurei resigned on Thursday morning, along with his cabinet, saying it now fell to Hamas to form a government.[30][31] Hamas leader al-Masri called for a "political partnership" with Fatah, but prominent Fatah leader, Jibril Rajoub, rejected a coalition and called on Fatah to form a "responsible opposition".

On the major single concerns governing voting, 37% considered it to be Safety and Security, while 25% favoured Decreased Corruption.[32]

An exit poll conducted by Near East Consulting on 15 February 2006 on voters participating in the 2006 PA elections revealed the following responses to major concerns:

Support for a Peace Agreement with Israel: 79.5% in support; 15.5% in opposition
Should Hamas change its policies regarding Israel: Yes – 75.2%; No – 24.8%
Under Hamas corruption will decrease: Yes – 78.1%; No – 21.9%
Under Hamas internal security will improve: Yes – 67.8%; No – 32.2%
Hamas government priorities: 1) Combatting corruption; 2) Ending security chaos; 3) Solving poverty/unemployment
Support for Hamas’ impact on the national interest: Positive – 66.7&; Negative - 28.5%
Support for a national unity government?: Yes – 81.4%; no – 18.6%
Rejection of Fatah’s decision not to join a national unity government: Yes – 72.5%; No – 27.5%
Satisfaction with election results: 64.2% satisfied; 35.8% dissatisfied[33]

World Public Opinion summarised the election voting drivers as follows:

”The decisive victory of the militant Islamic group Hamas in last month’s Palestinian legislative elections (winning 74 of 132 parliamentary seats) has raised the question of whether the Palestinian public has become aligned with Hamas’ rejection of Israel’s right to exist and its stated goal of creating an Islamic state covering all of historic Palestine, including what is now Israel. Hamas has come under increasing pressure to renounce its goal of eliminating Israel, but Hamas leaders have refused.

However, new polling following the election indicates that two-thirds of Palestinians believe Hamas should change its policy of rejecting Israel’s right to exist. Most also support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Post-election polls indicate that Hamas’ victory is due largely to Palestinians’ desire to end corruption in government rather than support for the organization’s political platform.[34]

Independent Observer reactions[edit]

The National Democratic Institute (NDI) in partnership with The Carter Center reported "a professional and impartial performance of election officials".[25] The European Union delegation reported "there was nothing which would indicate that the final result was not the outcome chosen by the voters".[26] A CRS Report for Congress on the 2006 elections concluded: "The election was overseen by 17,268 domestic observers, complimented by 900 credentialed international monitors. ... The Bush Administration accepted the outcome of the Palestinian legislative elections and praised the PA for holding free and fair elections. ... The conduct of the election was widely considered to be free and fair."[35]


see also Current members of Palestinian Legislative Council

The Central Elections Commission released the final results on Sunday, January 29, 2006, and announced that Hamas had won 74 of the 132 seats, while Fatah trailed with 45.[36]

According to the results, Hamas won the large majority of the constituency seats but was more narrowly ahead on the lists. Fatah did beat Hamas in the constituencies in Qalqilya, Rafah, and Jericho. Jenin was split evenly, and Fatah won the seats reserved for Christians in Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Ramallah.

The Central Elections Commission said turnout was 74.6%–76.0% in the Gaza Strip and 73.1% in the West Bank.[37]

Party Proportional seats District seats Total
Votes % Seats Votes % Seats
Hamas 440,409 44.45 29 1,932,168 40.82 45 74
Fatah 410,554 41.43 28 1,684,441 35.58 17 45
Martyr Abu Ali Mustafa 42,101 4.25 3 140,074 2.96 0 3
The Alternative 28,973 2.92 2 8,216 0.17 0 2
Independent Palestine 26,909 2.72 2 2
Third Way 23,862 2.41 2 2
Palestinian Popular Struggle Front 7,127 0.72 0 8,821 0.19 0 0
Palestinian Arab Front 4,398 0.44 0 3,446 0.07 0 0
Martyr Abu al-Abbas 3,011 0.30 0 0
National Coalition for Justice and Democracy 1,806 0.18 0 0
Palestinian Justice 1,723 0.17 0 0
Palestinian Democratic Union 3,257 0.07 0 0
Independents 953,465 20.14 4 4
Invalid/blank votes 29,864
Total 1,020,737 100 66 4,733,888 100 66 132
Registered voters/turnout 1,341,671 76.07
Sources: IFES, CEC


New government[edit]

The Prime Minister, Ahmed Qurei, resigned, but at the request of President Mahmoud Abbas, remained as interim Prime Minister until 19 February 2006. On 29 March 2006 a new government was formed by Hamas leader Ismail Haniya.

Detention of Ministers and MPs[edit]

Further information: 2006 Gaza cross-border raid

After the capture of Gilad Shalit on 25 June 2006, Israel launched a series of raids into Gaza and West Bank. Israel destroyed civilian infrastructure and arrested dozens of Hamas supporters, including elected cabinet ministers and members of the PLC. On 28 June overnight, the army invaded Gaza and performed airstrikes, bombing infrastructure such as bridges and an electricity station. On 29 June, the IDF detained from the West Bank 8 ministers and 26 PLC members in addition to many other political leaders.[16][38] By August 2006, Israel had arrested 49 senior Hamas officials, all from the West Bank, including 33 parliamentarians, "because technically they were members of a terrorist organisation although they may not be involved in terrorist acts themselves". Most of the detainees were strong moderated members within Hamas, urging leaders in Gaza to recognise Israel and ensure the party is acceptable to the international community. Hamas has accused Israel of trying to destroy the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority.[39]


Economic sanctions against the Palestinian National Authority and individual PLC members elected for Hamas[40] were imposed by Israel and the Quartet on the Middle East against the Palestinian National Authority and the Palestinian territories.[41]

On 28 January 2006, Israel said it would prevent Hamas leaders, including newly elected PLC deputies, from travelling between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. On 29 January, Ehud Olmert said that after Hamas sets up a Government, Israel would stop transferring to the PA custom duties and taxes it had collected on their behalf until it was satisfied that they would not end up in the hands of “terrorists”. US Secretary of State Rice declared that "The United States wants other nations to cut off aid to a Hamas-led Palestinian Government, also ruling out any US financial assistance to a Hamas Government." [42]

On 30 January, the Quartet called for reviewing support for the future government against it's commitment to the principles of nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Roadmap.[43][44]

Questioning the Right to Govern[edit]

Prior to the 2006 elections Israel had concerns that Hamas might win enough seats that it could demand a position in government. US President George Bush was not willing to press for Hamas’ exclusion from the election process. Abu Mazen (Abbas) was confident that Fatah would win the elections, as was Bush, who urged that the elections should take place.[45] The Guardian observed that the unforeseen election win by Hamas "was seen as an affront to the central premise of the Bush administration's policy in the Middle East - that democratic elections would inexorably lead to pro-western governments".[46]

Fatah post-election impediments[edit]

Main article: Fatah-Hamas conflict

PA Prime Minister Qureia and his Cabinet resigned even before the final results were officially announced. Fatah refused to join a new Hamas-led coalition. President Abbas would ask Hamas to form the next Government. On 26 January 2006, Fatah leader Saeb Erakat said his party did not want to join a Hamas Government. The Fatah Central Committee decided that Fatah will not join the next Government, but said it would depend on President Abbas. On 28 January 2006, Hamas declared it would try to form a Government of technocrats, if a government with Fatah and all the political groups was not possible. On 29 January 2006, PLC deputies from Fatah confirmed after talks with Abbas that their faction would not join Hamas in a coalition Government and would prefer to sit in opposition, despite calls by Hamas for a “political partnership”. The decision was, however, not discussed and ratified by the Fatah Central Committee.[42]

Hamas formed a government without Fatah, the secular party that had dominated Palestinian politics for decades. Ismail Haniyeh was nominated as Prime Minister on 16 February 2006 and sworn in on 29 March 2006. Conditions on the ground deteriorated almost immediately, as Fatah did not take defeat easily. Fatah-Hamas tensions were expressed in a significant deterioration of law and order, and incidences of open violence between the two groups led to dozens of deaths, particularly in the Gaza Strip. In September 2006, with Fatah support, the public sector, which had hardly been paid since March, went on strike. The Fatah “inclusionists” wanted to help Hamas become more moderate, so that a coalition would become possible. Fatah’s “old guard,” on the other hand, wanted to exclude Hamas from the political process, by ensuring its failure.[47]

After months of intermittent talks, on 8 February 2007, Fatah and Hamas signed an agreement to form a national unity government aimed at ending both the spasm of violence and the international aid embargo that followed the formation of the initial Hamas-led government.[44]

After the takeover in Gaza by Hamas on 14 June 2007 in the Battle of Gaza (2007), Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas dismissed the Hamas-led coalition government and on 15 June 2007 appointed Salam Fayad as Prime Minister to form a new government. Hamas objected to this move as being illegal. Though the new government’s authority is claimed to extend to all Palestinian territories, in effect it is limited to the Palestinian Authority controlled areas of the West Bank and excludes Gaza. Thus Hamas' right to lead a Palestinian Authority government had come to an end.[48][49]

US post-election impediments[edit]

Just before the January 2006 elections, and after witnessing Hamas’ gains in municipal polls, the House of Representatives passed H.Res. 575 (December 16, 2005), asserting that terrorist groups, like Hamas, should not be permitted to participate in Palestinian elections until such organizations “recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, cease incitement, condemn terrorism, and permanently disarm and dismantle their terrorist infrastructure.”[50] The Palestinian Authority chose to ignore this external decision: "the Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas has favored an unconditional acceptance of Hamas's electoral participation, believing that it could co-opt Hamas within the Palestinian political fold".[51]

The New York Times reported in February 2006 that “The United States and Israel are discussing ways to destabilize the Palestinian government so that newly elected Hamas officials will fail and elections will be called again. The intention is to starve the Palestinian Authority of money and international connections to the point where, some months from now, its president, Mahmoud Abbas, is compelled to call a new election.” [52]

Just how much further matters would be taken was revealed in April 2008. Tom Segev (in Ha’aretz) reported:

a “confidential document, a ‘talking points’ memo,[53] was left by the U.S. consul general in Jerusalem, Jake Walles, on the desk of Mahmoud Abbas . … According to the paper left behind … he wanted to pressure Abu Mazen to take action that would annul the outcome of the elections that had catapulted Hamas to power. … When nothing happened, Walles … warned the Palestinian president that the time had come to act. Instead, Abu Mazen launched negotiations with Hamas on the establishment of a unity government. … At this point the Americans moved to "Plan B." That was a plan to eliminate Hamas by force. In fact, it was to be a deliberately fomented civil war Fatah was supposed to win, with U.S. help.” [54]

In April 2008 Vanity Fair published “The Gaza Bombshell”:

”There is no one more hated among Hamas members than Muhammad Dahlan, long Fatah’s resident strongman in Gaza. Dahlan, who most recently served as Abbas’s national-security adviser, has spent more than a decade battling Hamas. … Bush has met Dahlan on at least three occasions. After talks at the White House in July 2003, Bush publicly praised Dahlan as “a good, solid leader.” In private, say multiple Israeli and American officials, the U.S. president described him as “our guy.”

Vanity Fair has obtained confidential documents, since corroborated by sources in the U.S. and Palestine, which lay bare a covert initiative, approved by Bush and implemented by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, to provoke a Palestinian civil war. The plan was for forces led by Dahlan, and armed with new weapons supplied at America’s behest, to give Fatah the muscle it needed to remove the democratically elected Hamas-led government from power. (The State Department declined to comment.)

Some sources call the scheme “Iran-contra 2.0,” recalling that Abrams was convicted (and later pardoned) for withholding information from Congress during the original Iran-contra scandal under President Reagan. There are echoes of other past misadventures as well: the C.I.A.’s 1953 ouster of an elected prime minister in Iran, which set the stage for the 1979 Islamic revolution there; the aborted 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, which gave Fidel Castro an excuse to solidify his hold on Cuba; and the contemporary tragedy in Iraq.[55]

The Jerusalem Post confirmed that the documents cited by Vanity Fair “have been corroborated by sources at the US State Department and Palestinian officials”, and added:

” The report said that instead of driving its enemies out of power, the US-backed Fatah fighters inadvertently provoked Hamas to seize total control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007. David Wurmser, who resigned as Vice President Dick Cheney's chief Middle East adviser a month after the Hamas takeover, said he believed that Hamas had no intention of taking over the Gaza Strip until Fatah forced its hand. "It looks to me that what happened wasn't so much a coup by Hamas but an attempted coup by Fatah that was preempted before it could happen," he was quoted as saying. Wurmser said that the Bush administration engaged in a "dirty war in an effort to provide a corrupt dictatorship [led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] with victory." Wurmser said he was especially galled by the Bush administration's hypocrisy. "There is a stunning disconnect between the president's call for Middle East democracy and this policy," he said. "It directly contradicts it.".[56]

The original article was cited by the Irish Times, the Israeli historian and political analyst, Tom Segev, in an article entitled “Bay of Pigs in Gaza”, and also by Suzanne Goldenburg of The Guardian, who added “A state department memo put the cost for salaries, training and weapons at $1.27bn (£640m) over five years.”[46]

The 2008 exposé by Vanity Fair (of plans to reverse the democratic 2006 PA parliamentary elections) confirmed a CF Report of January 2007, over a year earlier, by Alistair Crooke, :

”Deputy National Security Advisor, Elliott Abrams … has had it about for some months now that the U.S. is not only not interested in dealing with Hamas, it is working to ensure its failure. In the immediate aftermath of the Hamas elections, last January, Abrams greeted a group of Palestinian businessmen in his White House office with talk of a “hard coup” against the newly-elected Hamas government — the violent overthrow of their leadership with arms supplied by the United States. While the businessmen were shocked, Abrams was adamant — the U.S. had to support Fatah with guns, ammunition and training, so that they could fight Hamas for control of the Palestinian government.

Over the last twelve months, the United States has supplied guns, ammunition and training to Palestinian Fatah activists to take on Hamas in the streets of Gaza and the West Bank. A large number of Fatah activists have been trained and “graduated” from two camps — one in Ramallah and one in Jericho. The supplies of rifles and ammunition, which started as a mere trickle, has now become a torrent (Haaretz reports the U.S. has designated an astounding $86.4 million for Abu Mazen’s security detail), and while the program has gone largely without notice in the American press, it is openly talked about and commented on in the Arab media.

Of course, in public, Secretary Rice appears contrite and concerned with “the growing lawlessness” among Palestinians, while failing to mention that such lawlessness is exactly what the Abrams plan was designed to create.”[57]

Voice of America reported that the Bush administration had denied the Vanity Fair report.[58] This was rendered less credible by reports months before that “Hamas members today provided … a preliminary list of what they claimed were hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. weaponry and equipment seized during last week’s coup against the U.S.-backed Fatah security organizations of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. … The U.S. in recent years reportedly transferred large quantities of weaponry to build up Fatah forces against rival Hamas. Hamas officials told WND in multiple interviews they would seize the American weapons. “The CIA files we seized, which include documents, CDs, taped conversations and videos, are more important than all the American weapons we obtained the last two days as we took over the traitor Fatah’s positions,” said Muhammad Abdel-El, spokesman for the Hamas-allied Popular Resistance Committees terror group.” [59]

Israeli post-election impediments[edit]

On 31 January 2006, Israel’s Defence Minister Mofaz said Hamas' election victory gives Israel an incentive to decide in favour of a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank and that Israel would have to set new defensible borders for itself.[42]

In February 2006 the BBC reported:

Israel's cabinet has approved punitive sanctions on the Palestinian Authority, now dominated by militant group Hamas. Israel will withhold an estimated $50m (£28m) in monthly customs revenues due to the Palestinian Authority, as well as impose travel restrictions on Hamas members.[60]

In 1997 the US Secretary of State at the time, Madeleine Albright, had characterised such withholdings by Israel of revenue funds from the Palestinian authorities, as illegal.[61]

In June 2006 an Israeli military official said a total of 64 Hamas officials were arrested in the early morning round-up. Of those, Palestinian officials said seven were ministers in Hamas' 23-member Cabinet and 20 others were MPs in the 72-seat parliament.” "We have no government, we have nothing. They have all been taken," said Saeb Erekat, an ally of the moderate Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.[62]

In June 2007 the Washington Post reported: “Hamas … leaders have accused Fatah's security services of working on behalf of Israeli and American interests because of a $40 million U.S. aid package to strengthen Abbas's forces. … The Israeli government has openly supported Fatah forces against Hamas, whose tightening control of Gaza alarmed Israeli defense officials.[63]

A wikileaks cable dated June 13, 2007, Shin Bet security chief Yuval Diskin told U.S. Ambassador to Israel Richard Jones that: “Fatah had thus turned to Israel for help in attack Hamas”, which he termed a new and unprecedented development in Jerusalem's relations with the Palestinian Authority.

”In the cable sent to Washington, Jones said that Yadlin had been quite satisfied with Hamas' seizure of the Gaza Strip. If Hamas managed to take complete control then the Israel Defense Forces would be able to relate to Gaza as a hostile territory and stop looking at the militant group as an undiplomatic player, Yadlin apparently told Jones.”[64]


  1. ^ Central Elections Commission (CEC)
  2. ^ Excerpts from President Mahmoud Abbas’ Speech to the Opening of the PLC. Palestine-Israel Journal, Vol 13 No. 1, May 2006. Also as pdf
  3. ^ 1995 Elections law, 7 December 1995.
  4. ^ a b PCHR Position on the Presidential Decree on the Election Law. PCHR, 4 September 2007
  5. ^ U.S. Aid to the Palestinians, pp. 3-5. Jeremy M. Sharp, CRS Report for Congress, 2 February 2006 (RS22370)
  6. ^ a b [1]
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ "Israel kills key Palestinian leader". BBC News. August 27, 2001. Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  9. ^ Marmari, Hanoch (June 6, 2002). "Digging beneath the surface in the Middle East conflict". Haaretz. Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  10. ^ Peter Cave (August 28, 2001). "Israel assassinates Abu Ali Mustafa". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  11. ^ a b Frankel, Rafael D. "Fatah, Hamas might not win majority | Middle East". Retrieved 2011-05-23. 
  12. ^ Abu, Khaled. "Barghouti calls for Fatah-Hamas unity | Middle East". Retrieved 2011-05-23. 
  13. ^ "Survey Research Unit". 2006. Retrieved 2011-05-23. 
  14. ^ "Survey Research Unit". 2006. Retrieved 2011-05-23. 
  15. ^ "An-Najah National University" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-05-23. 
  16. ^ a b c Palestinian Legislative Council Members. Addameer, 2013
  17. ^ Legislative Council Members - Prisoners. Central Elections Commission
  18. ^ Palestinian MK demands release of PLC members; reinstatement of Jerusalem ID. Ma'an News Agency, 12 September 2008
  19. ^ Carter Center Urges Israel to Release Palestinian Legislators. The Carter Center, 24 January 2012
  20. ^ "Palestinian Officials May Cancel Elections - U.S. & World". 2005-12-21. Retrieved 2011-05-23. 
  21. ^ Martin Indyk, Innocent Abroad (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009), pages 382-383.
  22. ^ "Middle East | Israel to 'allow Jerusalem vote'". BBC News. 2006-01-10. Retrieved 2011-05-23. 
  23. ^ "News". AlertNet. 2011-05-10. Retrieved 2011-05-23. 
  24. ^ Palestinians allowed to vote in East Jerusalem, but Israel bars Hamas from election. Conal Urquhart, Guardian, 16 January 2006
  26. ^ a b "EU Parliament - MEPs oversee historic Palestinian election". Delegation of the European Union at the United Nations. 2006. 
  27. ^ [3]
  28. ^ Erlanger, Steven (2006-01-25). "A Narrow Win for Fatah Expected in Palestinian Elections - New York Times". Retrieved 2011-05-23. 
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Middle East | Palestinian PM to quit after poll". BBC News. 2006-01-26. Retrieved 2011-05-23. 
  31. ^ [4][dead link]
  32. ^ "Results of PSR Exit Polls For Palestinian PLC Elections". Palestine Center for Policy and Survey Research. 2006. 
  33. ^ "2006 PLC Elections". Near East Consulting. 2006. 
  34. ^ Angela Stephens (2006). "Most Palestinians Believe Hamas Should Change its Position on Eliminating Israel". World Public Opinion. 
  35. ^ Aaron D. Pina (2006). "Palestinian Elections - February 9, 2006" (PDF). Congressional Research Service - The Library of Congress. 
  36. ^ [5]
  37. ^ Palestinian Central Election Commission website
  38. ^ Israel seizes Hamas legislators. BBC, 29 June 2006
  39. ^ 25% of Palestinian MPs detained by Israel. Conal Urquhart, Guardian, 21 August 2006
  40. ^ Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) List. US Department of the Treasury, 12 April 2006
  41. ^ Hamas Leader Faults Israeli Sanction Plan. Steven Erlanger, New York Times, 18 February 2006
  42. ^ a b c Chronological Review of Events Relating to the Question of Palestine Monthly media monitoring review, January 2006. UN, Division for Palestinian Rights
  43. ^ Quartet Statement London, 30 January 2006.
  44. ^ a b Paul Morro (2007). "International Reaction to the Palestinian Unity Government" (PDF). CRS Report for Congress – May 9, 2007, Order Code RS22659. AAAAAA. 
  45. ^ Glen Kessler (2005). "Palestinian Leader is Urged to Confront Militant Groups". Washington Post. 
  46. ^ a b Suzanne Goldenberg (2008). "US plotted to overthrow Hamas after election victory". The Guardian. 
  47. ^ Dr. Khalil Shikaki (2007). "With Hamas in Power" (PDF). Brandeis University – Crown Center for Middle East Studies. 
  48. ^ "Palestine Business Law Handbook – Investment and Business guide". Volume 1 – Strategic Information and Basic Laws. International Business Publications U.S.A. 2009. pp. 11–12. ISBN 978-0-739746-37-0. 
  49. ^ Scott Wilson (2007). "Abbas Dissolves Government As Hamas Takes Control of Gaza". The Washington Post. 
  50. ^ Aaron D. Pina (2006). "Palestinian Elections" (PDF). CRS Report for Congress. Congressional Research Service - The Library of Congress. 
  51. ^ David Makovsky and Elizabeth Young (2005). "Toward a Quartet Position on Hamas". The Washington Institute. 
  52. ^ Steven Erlanger (2006). "U.S. and Israelis Are Said to Talk of Hamas Ouster". The New York Times. 
  53. ^ US Department of State for Jacob Walles (2006). "Talking points for a meeting between Jacob Walles and the Palestinian Authority" (PDF). US Department of State. 
  54. ^ Tom Segev (2008). "Bay of Pigs in Gaza". Ha’aretz. 
  55. ^ David Rose (2008). "The Gaza Bombshell". Vanity Fair. 
  56. ^ Khaled Abu Toameh (2008). "Bush approved plot to oust Hamas". The Jerusalem Post. 
  57. ^ Alastair Crooke (2007). "Elliot Abrams’ Uncivil War". Conflicts Forum. 
  58. ^ David Gollust (2008). "US Denies Plotting Hamas Overthrow". Voice of America. 
  59. ^ Aaron Klien (2007). "Hamas Lists Seized U.S. Weapons". World Net Daily. 
  60. ^ "Israel to impose Hamas sanctions". British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC News). 2006. 
  61. ^ David Lea (2002). "Survey of Arab-Israeli Relations 1947-2001". Taylor and Francis. ISBN 0-203-40303-7. 
  62. ^ David Fickling (2006). "Israel detains Hamas ministers". The Guardian. 
  63. ^ Scott Wilson (2007). "Abbas Dissolves Government As Hamas Takes Control of Gaza". The Washington Post. 
  64. ^ Barak Ravid (2010). "Fatah asked Israel to help attack Hamas during Gaza coup, WikiLeaks cable shows". Ha'aretz. 

External links[edit]