Peter E Hilsenrath, Karan P Singh
December 6, 2007
The strength of Hamas in Palestinian elections in early 2006 reshuffled the cards in the game of Middle East politics. Many astonished observers have sought an explanation for this political change. But the election result should not have been so surprising. Hamas has earned a reputation of clean governance and compassion for the poor, unlike the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority. Hamas has had a strong presence in the health sector which helped establish its legitimacy and popularity. This paper reviews bilateral and multilateral aid to Palestinians following the second intifada and argues that not enough was done by the international community to bolster health services of the Palestinian Authority. This left a void that Hamas and other charitable organizations have filled. The health sector remains strategic and its assimilation with the Palestinian Authority should be sought. Comprehensive policy toward the Middle East and other developing regions should integrate social welfare programs with global security interests.