Cross-posted from Wallwritings
A 2006 photo of a city street in Bethlehem with campaign posters widely displayed.
(image by Photo by Connie Baker)
President Obama has suggested a "pause" following the failure of the most recent Israel-Palestine peace negotiations.
A pause is an option, of course, but it needs to be a "pregnant pause," defined by one source as: "A pause that gives the impression that it will be followed by something significant."
It was Edmund Burke who once wrote, "Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it."
During his peace talks pause, Obama should look back to 2006, the last time the U.S. and Israel "trusted" the Palestinians to speak for themselves. That was the year of the remarkable 2006 parliamentary elections in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
The U.S and Israel did not actually trust the Palestinian voters; they tolerated them. Their "experts" on the ground assured them the election would end in victory for the Fatah party, known then for its loyalty to the Israeli-U.S. axis. The election was won by Hamas. Wikipedia provides the election results:
"Elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), the legislature of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) were held on 25 January 2006. The result was a victory for Hamas, who won with 74 seats of the 132 seats, whilst the ruling Fatah won just 45. In terms of votes received, Hamas took 44.45% of the vote, whilst Fatah received 41.43% and of the Electoral Districts, Hamas party candidates received 41.73% and Fatah party candidates received 36.96%."
I covered that January, 2006, Palestinian parliamentary election from a Bethlehem polling place. President Jimmy Carter was also there for the election. He was the head of the international election monitoring group.
Voters waiting to go into a Bethlehem polling place in 2006.
(image by Photo by author James Wall)
It was a moment of great potential in Palestinian history. Unfortunately, Israel and the U.S. were not interested in any political steps that enhanced Palestinian history.
Rather than bow to the will of the voters throughout all of Palestine -- the election was held in Gaza and in the West Bank -- Israel and the U.S. did what empires do, they refused to accept the results.
The election of a new Palestinian government caught the Bush White House "by surprise," or so the White House claimed at the time. It has always been difficult to believe that the vaunted spy agencies of Israel and the U.S. did not know, from inside sources, that the final election results would go against them.
"Surprise" appears to be the automatic empirical response when Palestinians derivate from the prepaid script. Eight years after the 2006 "surprise" election outcome, the Obama White House was "surprised" by the latest Palestinian 2014 surprise.
In a story from AP, posted by Times of Israel, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said...
"... a deal announced last week for Palestinian authorities to create a unity government with the militant group Hamas -- and which spurred Israel to withdraw from peace negotiations -- took the US by surprise."
The 2006 election that gave Hamas legislative control of both Gaza and the West Bank, drove Israel and the U.S. over the brink. Israel immediately imprisoned a large number of newly-elected Hamas legislators.
After losing at the polls, the U.S. sent military trainers to prepare Fatah militias to attack Hamas. Those attacks led to a military defeat of Fatah, adding insult to political injury.
Eight years later, either surprised or just disappointed in the 2014 Hamas-Fatah unity government proposal, President Obama wisely chose not to follow the 2006 Bush script. Instead, still clinging to a peaceful solution, Obama called for a pause in the peace negotiations.