Ramallah, Asharq Al-Awsat- There are reports concerning disagreements within the Hamas movement over the Palestinian legislative elections scheduled for 25 January 2006. Influential members within the movement have criticized leadership in the Gaza Strip for demanding that the elections are held on time despite Israel”s ongoing campaign to arrest prominent figures within Hamas in the West Bank.
A number of its leaders are concerned that Hamas may lose the elections in the West Bank because of their loss in numbers, due to the arrest of hundreds of important members. They are also concerned that the movement cannot succeed in administering its election campaign as a result of the arrests of the strongest and most educated associates. Moreover, they stated that the occupation authorities arrested any members of the movement who they believed would be nominated for election. However, these leaders are angry that their counterparts in the Gaza Strip are unaware of the impact of the arrests on the movement”s success in the elections. They warned that defeat in the elections would be regarded as "a vote of no confidence" in the movement and its program. Moreover, they reiterated that if the arrests continue, there would be no need for Israel to hinder the elections due to Hamas”s participation. This is because, according to the young leaders, Israel would rather that Hamas suffer from poor results in the election than forbidding it to participate.
The prominent figures also posed the following question; if the movement”s leadership continuously declares it rejection of indirect or direct Israeli intervention , then is it a wise decision for the movement to partake in the elections despite its inability to stop Israeli intervention.
Yuval Diskin, head of Shabak the internal general security service, has openly stated that the arrests of Hamas members in the West Bank aim to undermine the movement”s ability to participate in the legislative elections.
Israel during its operation called ”First Rain” against resistance movements in the Gaza Strip, in response to the rockets that were launched against Jewish residential areas in Negev, arrested a number of Hamas members and leaders.
The Islamic Jihad Movement has called for postponing the legislative elections because of Israel”s escalating aggression in the West Bank. Muhammad al-Hindi, a prominent Islamic Jihad leader in Gaza, has said that the set date of 25 January is not a "sacred date," and should be changed. Al-Hindi reiterated his movement”s refusal to participate in the elections. Moreover, he considered any talk about the liberation of Gaza as "mere illusion" due to the ongoing aggression against the Gaza Strip. Al-Hindi noted the essential need "not to give the impression that the situation is heading in the right direction, and that national interests must be upheld over all other interests in light of the ongoing massacres, shelling, and bloodbaths."