Monitoring Palestinian Elections

Today, Senator Biden returned from observing the Palestinian parliamentary elections at several polling sites in Ramallah and East Jerusalem. While in Israel, Biden met with Israel’s acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Following reports that the Islamic fundamentalist group Hamas won a major victory, Biden issued the following statement:

I have just returned from observing yesterday’s Palestinian legislative elections. The process was free and fair. But the apparent results — a victory by the terrorist organization Hamas — are very sobering.

The outcome reflects Palestinian anger and frustration at the Palestinian Authority and Fatah for their corruption, mismanagement, and failure to provide law and order. Surveys show that a strong majority of Palestinians support a peace agreement with Israel leading to a two-state solution. But Hamas’s victory raises serious questions about the future of the peace process. Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with a party that calls for its destruction, engages in terrorism and maintains an armed militia. Hamas must choose: bullets or ballots. It cannot have it both ways.

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