The IDF now advocates collective punishment and the targeting of civilian areas in Gaza. Notwithstanding the failure of such policies in the past, the IDF suggests it may even cut off electricity so that Palestinians understand the meaning of Israeli might.
Seventy U.S. senators are calling on George Bush to tell Palestinian leaders that "Hamas and other groups that the United States wants terrorist organizations to disarm or be banned from upcoming Palestinian elections." Again, dictating terms of democracy to a fledging state is a sure way to increase public support for Hamas. Besides, since when does the US or Israel have the right to tell the Palestinian people that only certain candidates are acceptable? Perhaps Abbas should actively campaign for the defeat of Ariel Sharon in the March Israeli elections.
Leading Israeli journalist Amira Hass reports on Israel's enlightened view of dissent:
"Israel Defense Force soldiers confiscated documents belonging to the Committee for the Popular Struggle against the Separation Fence during a nighttime raid on the northern West Bank village of Qafin, a committee activist said yesterday. Apparently, the soldiers located the committee headquarters in a building search and seized documents and NIS 7,000 and 500 dinars from their offices, said the activist."
Like the US - afraid of truly free elections across the Middle East due to the likelihood of Islamist parties taking power, as is happening in Iraq - Israel is trying to undermine free elections in Palestine. It is destined to fail on a number of levels. Open elections are impossible to conduct under occupation, though Palestinians will try and convince the world that they can while support for Hamas is partly related to the Palestinian Authority's corruption and inefficiency.
Until the occupation finally ends, Palestinian "democracy" is little more than a smokescreen. Israel and the US must be so proud.