19 December 2006 0 Comments

Omar Yussef for President

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced last weekend that he would call new presidential and parliamentary elections, because Hamas leaders in parliament refused to join a coalition government that might persuade international donors to lift their boycott of the Palestinian Authority. Hamas, which defeated Abbas’s Fatah Party in this year’s parliamentary election, rejected the move and deadly gunfights between the two factions have ensued all over Gaza.

I propose a plan to end the violence and bring Palestine out of its international isolation. I propose that my fictional Palestinian schoolteacher sleuth, Omar Yussef, stand for election as president.

Unlike Abbas’s Fatah Party, Omar is not associated with massive financial corruption. Neither is he, like Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, drawing close to Iran for financial backing, in the face of the international boycott. Omar is a decent, honorable Palestinian who stands against the corruption and violence that engulfs the Palestinians.

It’s probable that the elections won’t take place anyway. Either Hamas will succeed in stopping them, or Abbas will realize that he’d lose to Haniya and cancel them at the last minute (Yasser Arafat announced presidential elections more or less every time anyone annoyed him, but somehow he almost never got around to holding them.) Who better, then, than a fictional character to run in an election that’ll never take place for the job of president of a country which doesn’t yet exist (and looks further away from statehood every day)?

If they step aside for Omar Yussef, Abbas and Haniya could get down to the real business they seem so keen to sidestep: an agenda for peace within the Palestinian factions and true negotiations with Israel for an end to the conflict. Or is that just fiction, too?

Stay tuned for more on Omar’s candidacy.

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