Opinion surveys in the West Bank indicate that if elections were held now Hamas would win (despite a majority of Gazans now opposed to Hamas). This is because of the recent “war” Hamas fought with Israel. Since Hamas was still operating when the cease fire was signed, this counted as a victory to Palestinians. This made Hamas more popular, especially in the West Bank. Thus, while Fatah was ahead in the polls (51 to 40 percent) three months ago, Hamas now has a 48 to 45 percent lead. Meanwhile, Palestinians in the West Bank continue to be dissatisfied with their rulers (the Fatah party, which has long controlled the Palestinian Authority) because of the corruption and incompetence. However, there is much for Palestinians to dislike about Hamas, which has not allowed any more elections in Gaza after it won one in 2007. Hamas has ruined the economy in Gaza and tried to impose unpopular Islamic lifestyle rules. That is ignored by West Bank Palestinians who are desperate for change.
Like most Arab governments over the last 70 years, the Palestinian Authority was corrupt from the time it was created in 1994. That’s because the same people controlled the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO, created in the 1960s and soon recognized internationally as the leader of the Palestinians, despite its notorious corruption) and Fatah (the largest party in the PLO). This Palestinian inability to get their own house in order before trying to work out a peace deal with Israel drives the Israelis and diplomats worldwide nuts. Even Arab states supporting (and subsidizing) the Palestinians are upset as this self-destructive behavior. As one local observer noted, “the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”
Hamas is mobilizing its growing number of supporters in the West Bank (which contains 2.5 million people, compared to 1.5 million in Gaza) to demonstrate against Fatah and Israel and lay the groundwork for a Hamas election victory. Fatah can prevent this (and make itself even more unpopular) by refusing to hold an election it senses it will lose. That will cause more political turmoil in the West Bank and increase the ability of Hamas to recruit people there to try to carry out terror attacks against Israel. That should not be too difficult because recent opinion polls show that 88 percent of Palestinians approve of the Hamas approach to Israel (no recognition that it exists and steadfastly working towards the goal of destroying Israel). This trend has not gone unnoticed in Israel, where recent election campaigns are ignoring the Palestinians and concentrating on economic issues inside Israel. In effect, most Israelis have accepted the fact that the Palestinians don’t want peace and are set on the goal of eventually destroying Israel. Recruiting Palestinians to be terrorists is difficult because for the last ten years the Israelis have developed tactics and techniques that make it nearly impossible for the terrorists to carry out attacks inside Israel. Thus signing up to be a Palestinian terrorist is basically a one-way ticket to a cemetery or jail cell. As a result most of the recruits tend to be too dumb or delusional to be of much use, other than providing Israeli counter-terror forces someone to hone their skills on.
Meanwhile, both Fatah and Hamas are having serious money problems. Foreign donors are losing interest in helping the self-destructive and corrupt Palestinians. It is becoming more widely known how much aid money is stolen before it even reaches the average Palestinian. This growing poverty, and the corruption that caused it, is causing even more unrest in the Palestinian territories.
December 21, 2012: For the tenth time since the brief (eight days) war with Hamas ended last month, Israeli troops fired on Palestinians who got too close to the security fence (where Palestinians try to plant bombs that are detonated when Israeli border patrols pass by). Five Palestinians were wounded this time when they refused orders to back away. That makes 30 Palestinians who have been killed or wounded in incidents like this.
December 17, 2012: A large explosion occurred in the southern Lebanese town of Tair Harfa, where Hezbollah is known to store hundreds of rockets in homes and near schools and hospitals. While members of UNIFIL (the 12,000 UN peacekeeper force on the Israeli border) showed up, Hezbollah gunmen kept all media out and blamed the explosion on an old Israeli missile from the 2006 war. Hezbollah refuses to allow UNIFIL to go near any of its rocket storage sites and insists that the only weapons it has along the Israeli border are those needed to defend itself. Hezbollah has been bringing in more rockets from Syria recently and there is fear that Hezbollah will also get some of the Syrian chemical weapons. The UN refuses to declare Hezbollah an international terrorist organization, despite the fact that Hezbollah has been caught carrying out terrorist operations in several foreign countries and openly calls for the destruction of Israel.
December 16, 2012: Egypt held the first round of voting on the new constitution, which won by 57 percent. The Moslem Brotherhood controls the interim government and wrote the new constitution. Opponents (secularists and supporters of the deposed Mubarak dictatorship) protest elements of the new constitution that could turn Egypt into a religious dictatorship. Most Egyptians want the Moslem Brotherhood to do something about the corruption that has crippled the economy and the government in general. Some of the religious groups in the Moslem Brotherhood coalition do want a religious dictatorship and are particularly eager to destroy Israel. Most Egyptians don’t want another war with anyone, especially Israel.
December 13, 2012: In the West Bank a Palestinian man was shot dead as he tried to throw a firebomb at Israeli border guards. The Palestinian media likes to portray these incidents as Israeli war crimes but the Israelis make heavy use of security cameras and often have video, as in this case, making it clear who was the aggressor. The Palestinian (and often world) media tries to ignore such proof.
December 11, 2012: The Egyptian Army has been given temporary power to make arrests. This is to help deal with the growing number of demonstrations against the Islamic conservatives (the Moslem Brotherhood) who control the interim government and seem likely to get their new constitution passed as well.