Monday, February 27, 2006

A Hamas Government Doesn't Look So Bad --
Via Yahoo! News:

The Fatah administration, riddled by corruption and infighting, alienated voters here before the May 5 municipal elections, and Hamas swept all 15 seats on the town council by promising reform and a better life. The victory was seen as a predictor of the group's eventual victory in the parliamentary election.

Qalqilitya's Hamas mayor, Wajeeh Nazzal, has been jailed in Israel for 42 months without charges. His deputy, Hashim al-Masri, took office in his place and worked swiftly to put the town's chaotic finances in order.

He computerized the financial records, put in place strict regulations and created administrative order, he said.

In a plan to increase revenue, the town gave discounts to residents who paid their utility bills promptly. It doubled the income from the zoo by ensuring entrance fees went to town coffers instead of to corrupt officials.

By year's end, the government had turned a projected $640,000 deficit into a $640,000 surplus, using the money to pave roads and lay water pipes, al-Masri said. The town has sought bids for sewage work and for a new restaurant in the zoo, he said.

. . . .

The Hamas council did cause a minor scandal when it denied a music festival use of a municipal building, forcing its cancellation and fanning fears Hamas was trying to impose its strict interpretation of Islam.

Many residents said they were not concerned about that controversy. But they also were unimpressed with the new government's transparency and accounting procedures.

. . . .

Residents said they were furious about the explosion in electricity prices since Hamas took power, an increase al-Masri attributed to the rise in world oil prices.
They also got fed up with Hamas' efforts to establish order. Drivers complained they could no longer park in restricted areas and storeowners were angry when they were forced to remove sidewalk displays.

Many here also believed that the rise of Hamas, listed as a terror group by the United States and European Union, drove foreign aid projects out of town.

And after five years of hardship, they wanted instant improvements.

And yet, Qalqilitya booted out its Hamas-led city council and returned Fatah to power. If this is what government under Hamas might look like, they deserve a fair chance to accomplish things. It's a shame that citizens are too impatient to build infrastructure.
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