The issue of Hamas's participation has underlined the dilemma facing the United States and other Western powers that advocate free elections in the Middle East but also worry that victory will go to groups such as Hamas....
"There should be no place in the political process for groups and individuals who refuse to renounce terror and violence or refuse to recognize Israel's right to exit or refuse to disarm," Assistant Secretary of State David Welch said after meeting Abbas in Ramallah on Friday.
FLASHBACK: Zakaria, 1997: The Rise of Illiberal Democracy
MORE: Peres's Prediction for 2010
"A solution will be found for Jerusalem without dividing it, an Israeli-Jordanian-Palestinian economic troika focusing on Europe will be established, and we will look toward the U.S. for security-related and diplomatic guidance."
MORE: IDF Worried About Israeli Extremists
UPDATE: Blame Bush?: "Ballot Box Frees Islamist Genie"
But in a land where yesterday’s terrorists have frequently reinvented themselves as tomorrow’s political leaders some are encouraged by the move.