A senior Fatah official has said that he expects Hamas to win "an overwhelming majority" in the Palestinian Liberation Organisation elections if they are carried out in a free and democratic fashion. Nabeel Amre's comments were reported by the Palestinian Al-Resaleh newspaper on Thursday.
Mr Amre is the information and media advisor for Palestinian Authority President, and PLO Chairman, Mahmoud Abbas. If and when free elections are held, he told Al-Resalah, the real size of the factions' support will be made clear. "Some of the Palestinian parties are living on the legacy of their past. They do not have any real presence among Palestinians today."
He ruled out fresh elections for the Palestinian National Council in exile unless there is "real Arab pressure" exerted. "There must be a direct commitment from certain parties to conduct free and transparent elections."
To ensure that free and fair elections take place, the former minister for Fatah said that an Arab and international "security network" must undertake to respect the outcome of the PLO election, especially if Hamas win. He noted that internal and external parties undermined the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority which took office after the 2006 elections. "That conspiracy started before the elections," he said.
Calling for the necessity of reforming the PLO, Amre said that there must be a real change in the "past dictators" of the organisation. "The PLO used to be controlled by a group of factions, which impaired the work of its institutions intentionally and destroyed its real representation among Palestinians." He also recognised that there are some who exploited the PLO for their personal gain. At the same time, he said that he expects the emergence of new Palestinians factions who will be more brilliant across the national arena. Amre believes that Hamas will take a strong line in the PLO's political programme but, he insists, it "can deal easily with the international community" due to its "efficiency and political flexibility".
With regards to Palestinian reconciliation, the Fatah official said that he is fearful that certain moves will be taken to advance one side's interests at the cost of the elections. The factions must, he stressed, leave Cairo with an agreement to do their best to end the internal division and respect the outcomes of the elections in order end the split which surfaced so viciously post-2006.
Commenting on the experience of the Islamists in the Arab Spring countries, Amre, a senior official of the main secularist Palestinian faction, said that some people and states object to the rule of Islamists and will do whatever they can to undermine them. He said that the Islamist parties' control of Arab Spring countries is at a "critical transition stage" but denied trying to discredit them himself. "To evaluate them, we have to wait a little bit before we give our opinion."
Amre is due to visit Gaza next week, and said that he wishes every success to the Islamic movements in their efforts to overcome the political and economic obstacles facing them.