Gazans speak out on early poll

The Palestinian president has threatened to call early elections, but what do ordiinary Gazans think about this?

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Before the Palestinian president made his announcement on December 16 that he would call early elections , Al Jazeera asked ordinary Gazans what they thought about such a proposal.

Laila el-Haddad asked residents if their allegiances had changed during the events since Hamas trounced Fatah at elections in January. This is what they said.

“The least we can do is support them
in these dire times”

Mervet Naim, 34, English teacher (government schools)

“I am completely against the idea of early elections. President Abbas and Fatah in general must give Hamas a chance and let them serve the full four years. Even if we are not being paid, we are still behind our government one hundred per cent. 

“They are fair individuals and they feel with the suffering of our society because they are from the people. We cannot just judge them from the first nine months. 

“The whole world is against them – so the least we can do is support them in these dire times. I voted for Hamas before, and I would vote for Hamas again.”

“We have to do something for the sake of the
people, not for the sake of the factions”

Yousef AlHelou, 27, radio producer/translator

“I am with any solution which can lead us away from this crisis. Even if there is no law that allows for early elections to be called, one must be created.

“We have to do something for the sake of the people, not for the sake of the factions. Hamas says its popularity will increase if early elections are called – but they are also opposed to the idea, so there is a contradiction there.

“At the same time, Fatah should not impose its opinions on Hamas since it is, after all, in the minority now.

“I oppose the idea that the government is somehow responsible for the situation we’re in – it’s clearly collective punishment by the West.

“At the same time, Hamas should be flexible. The ministry of the interior and finance should be run independent of any faction. I voted for Hamas in January’s elections to punish Fatah because of its corruption, but I’m not sure how I would vote again.”

“I think every citizen knows what it is we
need in a government now”

Salim Sbayta, 30, waiter

“I am for early elections. Our living conditions are unbearable and, God willing, early elections will solve the crisis because I think every citizen knows what it is we need in a government now.

“We need a government that can deal with foreign and Arab governments and understand our reality. We are a society that survives on foreign aid.

“There has to be a pragmatic solution to the problem. I didn’t vote in the previous elections, but if new elections are held, I will certainly vote for Fatah.”

“We need both players in the government. I’m
still hopeful a unity government can be formed”

Reem Akram, 20, university student

“Even though I’m a Fatah supporter, I’m against new elections. They will only lead to more chaos and infighting and instability. If Hamas is voted out, it will return to fighting and resistance.

“At the same time, Fatah and the PLO need drastic reform in their ranks and this has not yet happened.

“We need both players in the government. I’m still hopeful a unity government can be formed. I voted for Fatah in the previous election and would vote for them again. But I think this government should be allowed to serve out its term.”

“There is no military solution to our problem: 
it’s a lose-lose proposition for us, and Israel”

Maher Khateeb, 45, taxi driver

“I voted Hamas in January’s elections even though I was a staunch supporter of Fatah, but now I’m divided. I would either vote for an independent or a mix of candidates on the district levels if new elections were held.

“But don’t come and tell me that you are going to release all the prisoners or tear down the wall [Israel’s separation barrier] or liberate Jerusalem – I want realistic promises and have modest expectations.

“I think the current government must be dissolved in order to support the people. Israel is a reality we have to accept and negotiate with.

“There is no military solution to our problem: it’s a lose-lose proposition for us, and for Israel. And we are the biggest losers of all.

“I think new elections should be held first and foremost for economic reasons. People are starving and everyone is simply searching for their day’s bread. They aren’t thinking about anything else.”

“I have ten kids and I don’t know how to feed
them. That is my priority”

Fouad Tamboora, 51, farmer

“I voted for a mixture of candidates in the previous elections – some Hamas, some Fatah, some independents – and Hamas on the national level. But they haven’t done anything for me – I haven’t benefited from either Fatah or Hamas.

“I have ten kids and I don’t know how to feed them. That is my priority. I’m still hoping for a unity government to be formed, though, and oppose early elections. It’s simply unlawful and unprincipled. They should be allowed to serve out their full term, even if that is 20 years.

“I’m undecided how I would vote if elections were to be held again. I would either abstain or vote for independents.”  

“Everybody voted for Hamas to get rid of the
 other regime, but nobody thought they’d win”

Nafiz Warshagha, 37, shopkeeper

“I’m for early elections-because of the unbearable humanitarian situation. Everyone is for new elections no matter who wins, simply so people can live again. Things are getting scarcer and scarcer.

“I cast mixed ballots – but voted mainly for Hamas. Everybody voted for Hamas in order to get rid of the other regime, but nobody really thought they would win.

“I can’t say who I’d vote for again if elections were held, but I do think I think Hamas would serve us best as a strong opposition.

“New elections will certainly create a lot of problems, but there is no other way out and people desperately need a way out. So they are willing to cling to any option that provides them with even a shred of hope of getting out of this crisis we’re in.” 

“Were it not for neighbourly charity, people
would be out on the street begging”

Rasmiyah Shamiya, 60

“I am for holding early elections. I voted Fatah in January and would vote Fatah again. The situation is very bad and cannot be allowed to continue – it is simply a catastrophe.

“If they [Hamas] could pay the employees, agree to recognise Israel, or even create a government of national unity, things might be OK. But none of those options is realistic.

“Were it not for neighbourly charity, people would be out on the street begging – they can’t feed their children. My son doesn’t even have half a shekel on him to give his children. What else can we do?”

“If we start with new elections, we should
start from the top”

Maha Salama, 28, communications engineer

“I am staunchly against early legislative elections, but do think we should call for new presidential elections. The current parliament was only recently elected, and not by any small percentage.  They [Hamas] won by a high enough margin so as to render the mere idea of new elections moot.

“However, it’s been a while since we voted for the presidency and when we did vote, people only chose Abbas for a lack of realistic alternatives.

“If we start with new elections, we should start from the top and based on this we can accept a new legislature. We just elected them yesterday, after all.

“There might have been hope for an agreement between the factions, but as long as Abu Mazen [Abbas] is in the executive, and Hamas is in the PLC [Palestinian Legislative Council], there will be no unity government. The answer is presidential elections.

“I voted for Hamas and will vote for Hamas again. The issue is not about them being unable to establish foreign relations or provide for the people, it’s about local, regional, and international factors standing in their way.” 

“We gave this government a chance and they
have been unable to provide what’s necessary “

Raed Thaher, 34, carpenter

“I am for new elections. We gave this government a chance for six months and they have been unable to provide what’s necessary for the people _ such as food, work, or money.

“I am working part-time jobs and my father is now unemployed.

“I realise it’s not in Hamas’s hands and I don’t necessarily blame them, but I do think a new government should be established to resolve the crisis.

“I voted for Hamas but am now unsure who I would vote for in new elections.” 

“If new elections are held, it will be under
severe economic duress”

Azza Hakeema, 41, head nurse (government clinic)

“I am against holding early elections. It hasn’t even been a year since the previous elections. And people’s opinions are swayed now by the unusual circumstances we’re in.

“If new elections are held, it will be under severe economic duress, and at a time when employees are going unpaid, so naturally the response will not be indicative of their true feelings.

“Holding new elections is simply illogical, even if we as health workers are not being paid. We want a solution, it’s true, but this should come in the form of a unity government. We should keep trying for this no matter what.

Your Views

“Abbas has lost everything because of his policy inside and outside Palestine … and any wrong decision [he takes] will cost him and the Palestinians an internal civil war”

Alkhalili, Nrtingen, Germany

Send us your views

“I voted Hamas and I would still vote for them. It’s a matter of principles. This siege has been forced upon them, but otherwise they fulfilled their duties.

“Under the previous government, the situation deteriorated, and the society was split between those who considered themselves aristocrats and the rest of the people who they considered sub-human.

“But this new Hamas government does not distinguish in that way. We suddenly feel there is a government that is accountable and which respects us as individuals, not just respects the children and wives of those in power.”

Source: Al Jazeera