Arguing that the polarization of the Palestinian political field did not start with Hamas's takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007, the author analyzes the factors that have eroded the cohesiveness and vitality of the Palestinian polity, namely, the paralysis of Palestinian political institutions, territorial and social fragmentation, and egregious outside interference. In this context, and in the absence of an internal Palestinian debate about the objectives of holding elections under occupation, the author shows that the timing and circumstances of the 2006 legislative elections were bound to precipitate the current state of disarray. Finally, he considers the way forward, highlighting the potential of public pressure in promoting national reconciliation.

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