Back to democracy: Hamas and the Palestinian elections

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Hamas accomplished part of its scheduled internal elections in a move that appeared to be heating up the Palestinian election battle, even if the truth was that these elections took place at its normal time that takes place every four years.


Democratic Victory

Two months before the Legislative Council elections begins, Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip presented a remarkable model of internal democracy, which many Palestinian factions lacked, and are absent from most Arab regimes.

The elections witnessed a real and fair competition between two poles of the movement’s leaders, the freed prisoner Yahya Sinwar, who led Hamas in the Gaza Strip over the past four years, and the leader Nizar Awad Allah, who accompanied the martyrs Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz Al-Rantisi.

For the first time in the history of the movement, the elections in Gaza, and not in other regions, took a public character in its results, as this process took place in stages, under independent judicial supervision, with the election of Shura Councils in all areas of Gaza, and ending with the election of the movement’s president in the Gaza.

Women in Hamas.. An Effective Role in Politics and Resistance

Since its inception in late 1987, Hamas has focused on women's activities, recognizing the role of women in raising the individual, family, and society. Hamas’s interest in women's affairs was evident from the early stages of the movement’s formation, when women occupied organizational positions. Hamas also formed the Women's Action Committee, in the late 1980s, as an organizational committee that has its own budget and general activities like any other committee in the movement.

Head of women's branch of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, Raja Al-Halabi, stated that the role of women in Hamas is in accordance with the New Electoral System, which women participated in by amending and approving in its final form, explaining that the New Electoral System ensured the presence of women in all positions.

Al- Halabi said, "For decades, we have been practicing our right and role without guardianship, and this thing stems from our origins and roots, which did not prevent women from participating in all aspects of life."

"Hamas movement has not oppressed women since its inception. This New Electoral System does not mean that women were absent, but are rather present in all fields. Our participation is not marginal, rather it is an active participation in all fields," she added.

The 2006 legislative elections represented a historic opportunity to shed light on the role of women in Hamas. In an attempt to encourage women's participation in the elections, Hamas issued a statement on January 2, 2006, announcing its endeavor to advance women, enact legislation that protects their rights and resist any attempts to marginalize their role.

Six female Hamas leaders were elected to Parliament in 2006: Jamila Al Shanti, Maryam Faraha, Samira Al Halaiqa, Mona Mansour, Huda Naim and Maryam Saleh. The former Hamas government also appointed al-Isra'a al-Mudallal as its first English speaker in November 2013.

Fatima Shurrab, a member of the political bureau of Hamas, said that the participation of women in the Hamas electoral list will surprise everyone, and that the movement has competencies and female cadres capable of serving Palestinian women.

Hamas' Resistance and Democracy

This expresses a genuine and long-standing democratic practice in a movement that is classified by the West and the occupation entity as terrorist, to confirm that the people under occupation are able to defeat their occupiers not only in the field of resistance, but also in freedom, democracy and transparency to raise those who deem it more efficient to fight the battle with the occupier, who owns all the war technology and describes himself as a democratic regime in the Arab world.

Hamas sent an image that it was entering the general elections, united and strong, in front Palestinian factions that claim democracy, yet lack it in their practices.

It is hoped that this will have a positive impact locally, towards strengthening the democratic line in the factions and their strategies.

With these elections, Hamas also presented a distinctive and strong image to the Western world, that it is dealing with a strong movement rooted in the concepts of democracy.