Gazans speak out on early elections
Tension was palpable in the air today in Gaza, as Hamas's executive forces deployed alongside the presidential guard, hours after an attempt on Prime Minister Ismail Haniya's life. Luckily, the tension has so far not spilled over into violence in Gaza, as in the West Bank, and both forces shown admirable restraint.
Haniya proceeded to give his speech, which many people I spoke with viewed as "re-assuring" given the volatile climate of recent days and weeks. Still, many question marks remain: how will the money he was able to raise make its way into Gaza? Is a unity government still realistic? What is the alternative?
Tommorow Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to give a nationwide talk, in which he will hint-but not overly call for-early elections as an option, something that Hamas, and even Fateh's Qaddoumi, reject. It is a suggestion that the PLO Executive Council recommended last week, however.
Al-Quds al-Arabi editor, and prominent palestinian journalist Abdelbarry Utwan, who was hosted by phone with me last week on Gaza's "Nightdrive" english radio program, believes for his part that a call for early elections is a call for civil war "and we all know who is behind that".
He said it would be a grave mistake for Abbas to call for early elections, and compared Gaza to Algeria of the eary '90s, while noting the contradiction of US support of the Sinora government and opposition to Hamas.
I went around and talked to people about their thoughts on early elections last week in this photostory for Aljazeera. Do bear in mind that it was written before Haniya's speech, which seems to have had a good deal of influence in people's confidence level, according to many local analysts.
Most people seem confused and uncertain, and just want a way out of the current crisis. At the same time, opinion is extremely polarized.
I've also published an oped in the International Herald Tribune echoing previous statements I've made about the criminal closure of Rafah Crossing.