The 'Egypt Effect:' Palestinians call for elections

The New York Times:

The Palestinian leadership announced Saturday that it planned to hold presidential and parliamentary elections by September, apparently a response to the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt calling for greater democracy and government accountability.

The decision was announced in the West Bank city of Ramallah after a meeting of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which oversees the Palestinian Authority. Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, is also the chairman of the P.L.O.

At the same meeting, Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian peace negotiator with Israel, submitted his resignation and Mr. Abbas accepted it. A subcommittee was formed to look for a successor as well as to consider restructuring the negotiations unit.

The Islamist Hamas faction rejected the plan for national elections, saying Mr. Abbas had no legitimacy to call for them since he was serving beyond his term.

Hamas has piously called for "reconciliation" with Fatah while insisting that elections held without them will be illegitimate. It's debatable if elections held with them would be legitimate given their intimidation tactics and cheating in 2006 in Gaza. But that's a minor quibble. Hamas rules Gaza with an iron hand while Fatah's grip on the West Bank is even stronger. The idea that any political party or politician who disagreed with either Palestinian entity could get elected is farcical.