Israeli officials convened emergency meetings on Thursday to decide how to respond to the militant Hamas group’s upset victory in Palestinian elections, maintaining an outward silence while privately blaming each other for the upheaval.
Hamas’ stunning showing in Wednesday’s vote could send tremors through Israel’s own political establishment ahead of March elections by bolstering hawks who oppose territorial concessions to the Palestinians.
Official results in the Palestinian balloting aren’t expected before late Thursday, but leaders of both the ruling Fatah Party and Hamas said that Hamas, which has masterminded dozens of suicide bombings against Israel, won a majority of Palestinian seats in its first legislative run.
Hours after unofficial results indicated Hamas’ clear victory in the Palestinian elections, Hamas supporters poured into the Palestinian parliament amid clashes with Fatah loyalists.
The Hamas supporters then raised the Hamas flag over the building.
The two camps threw stones at each other, breaking windows in the building, as Fatah supporters briefly tried to lower the green Hamas banners. The crowd of about 3,000 Hamas backers cheered and whistled as activists on the roof of the parliament raised the Hamas banner again.
It was the first confrontation between Hamas and Fatah since the Islamic militant group won parliament elections on Wednesday.
Dubya chimes in:
Asked if the United States was ruling out dealing with a Palestinian government that was made up partly of Hamas, [Bush] replied:
“They don’t have a government yet, so you’re asking me to speculate on what the government will look like. I have made it very clear however that a political party that articulates the destruction of Israel as part of a platform is a party with which we will not deal.”
But Bush also sought to project a positive note on the election.
He said the vote was a sign Palestinians were unhappy with the status quo and showed democracy at work, which was positive for the Middle East region.