Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Good luck to Palestine

Since I'm awake and blogging, I figured I should mention the recent Palestinian elections. I'm very glad Mahmoud Abbas won with a significant mandate; his moderate message and desire for peace lead me to hope the conflict will begin to diminish. (I'm too much of a pessimist to hope it will end, at least in the near future.)

Israel's willingness to work with him and President Bush's invitation to Washington are very positive signs. I like the president's remarks on the subject:
"It is essential that Israel keep a vision of two states living side-by-side in peace, and that as the Palestinians begin to develop the institutions of a state, that the Israel government support the development of those institutions," Mr. Bush said at the White House.
Not particularly profound, perhaps, but something worth remembering.

The only thing that bothered me was the turnout. For a surprisingly long time after the results were declared, none of the reports I read gave figures. I wondered why, but the Times reports that "The Palestinian Central Elections Commission declined to give a figure for the percentage of eligible voters who cast ballots." It's not that bad, though; over half the registered voters showed up, though if the unregistered voters (who were still permitted to vote) are included, the turnout drops to less than 50%.

Israel is no longer "the region's only democracy." Palestine may now count itself as one, as one of Mr. Abbas' allies said. I fear the forthcoming elections in Iraq will not add a third democracy, though; reports from there are very discouraging.

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