Berkowitz: Hamas Victory Poses Challenges for Israel

Hamas's victory in the recent Palestinian elections may strengthen the hand of acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his Kadima party, according to an article by Professor Peter Berkowitz in The Weekly Standard in which he examines the ascendancy of the party and the challenges facing the Israeli government as it faces the prospect of dealing with Palestinian leadership by a group recognized by Israel, the United States, and Europe as a terrorist organization.

Israel After Sharon...; And Palestine After Fatah, The Weekly Standard, February 6, 2006. By Peter Berkowitz. 

"...Kadima's ascendance reflects profound changes in the Israeli public. On national security, a substantial group of voters on the right, following Sharon, has abandoned the idea of an Israeli future that involves ruling over Palestinians. And a substantial group of voters on the left, if they have not abandoned the idea of finding a negotiating partner among the Palestinians, has at least acquired an intense skepticism about the prospects. At the same time, many voters on the left have rejected Labor's statist principles and have embraced the need for free market reforms. While they would soften the severe fiscal discipline initiated by the Sharon government, they are determined to continue with privatization.

In short, Kadima has arisen out ot the union of pragmatic, center-leaning conservatives who have broken off from the most doctrinaire members of Likud, and pragmatic, center-leaning liberals who have broken off from the most doctrinaire members of Labor...What Sharon wrought, however, was something solid: the formulation of principles on national security and economic policy that both reflected his own considered judgment on Israel's most urgent needs and, after almost three decades in which his country was in the grips of ideology-driven politics, gave expression as well as shape to a vital Israeli center."