Hamas showing could encourage Israel's go-it-alone approach

Hamas' strong showing in Palestinian parliamentary elections will encourage Israel's go-it-alone approach to Mideast peacemaking if Israeli officials feel they have no one to talk to on the other side.

But if the elections pull the Islamic militants off the streets and into the corridors of power _ shifting their focus from terror to governance _ prospects for peace could be improved.

Exit polls on Wednesday showed the ruling &to=http://english.pravda.ru/world/2005/05/12/59701.html' target=_blank>Fatah Party winning the most seats in the 132-seat Palestinian Legislative Council, with Hamas placing a strong second. With neither side apparently winning an outright majority, however, Fatah might be forced to invite Hamas into a governing coalition.

"If this sharing of power will satisfy Hamas then they will have less of a need to use military means to be heard and that could possibly be good for the peace process," said Daoud Kuttab, director of the Institute of Modern Media at Jerusalem's Al-Quds University.

Yet &to=http://english.pravda.ru/hotspots/2002/07/20/32919.html' target=_blank>Hamas has shown little willingness to renounce its charter calling for Israel's destruction or to give up its weapons, despite its decision to uphold a ceasefire declared a year ago.