The Israeli government appears so eager to facilitate the Palestinians’ election of a replacement for Arafat that they’re going to allow international election observers into Occupied Palestine. The IDF, however, will not withdraw, so I suppose the observers will be required to sign the Israeli “We have the right to kill you” visa.
Steve Erlanger (NYT/IHT) writes of the international observer concession:
It was another indication that Israel, after the death of Yasser Arafat and under new pressure from the West for movement on the peace process, does not want to be seen as putting obstacles in the way of the Palestinians exercising their right to vote.
Which is ridiculous. Israel and the US have been putting obstacles in the way of the Palestinians exercising their right to vote for many years. Lawrence of Cyberia points out:
Remember that in response to Bush’s Rose Garden speech of June 2002, in which he called for the election of a new leadership “not tainted by terror”, the PA called President Bush’s bluff and scheduled elections for 20 January 2003. But with Arafat riding high in Palestinians public opinion polls after the Muqata siege in fall 2002, it quickly became obvious that if the elections were held, Arafat would be re-elected. And President Bush’s new-found commitment to Palestinian democracy died a sudden death. Because let’s be honest, this Administration’s commitment to bringing “democracy” to the Middle East does not really envisage democracies that vote for anyone other than our preferred candidate. All of which explains why there was a resounding silence from the US when the PA asked for pressure on Israel to allow voter registration to take place in the reoccupied Palestinian cities. Ha’aretz ran a series of articles discussing openly how there was no chance that the Palestinians were going to be allowed to organize elections, if there was any danger that Arafat would get a new mandate, e.g.:
The real reason why the Israeli authorities, with the support of the United States, will not permit Palestinian elections is that they do not want Arafat to be reelected….So the PA can go on making all the preparations and its senior officials can talk as much as they wish about democratic processes and procedures, but as long as it’s clear that Arafat will win, elections are not likely to take place.
— Danny Rubinstein, The Other Elections; (Ha’aretz, 16 Nov 2002).
That was what killed off the 2003 Palestinian elections.