[Abbas calls early elections in Palestine.]

Option 1: Hamas wins the election. Option 2: Abbas rigs the vote, and Hamas loses the election, then starts and wins a civil war. Option 3: Hamas and Fatah reconcile to avoid the election. Option 4: Hamas kills Abbas and finishes off the leaderless Fatah.

Bottom line: Fatah faces the death crisis typical of revolutionary parties. A strongman eliminates all competition and therefore all possible successors, thus dooming his party. With Abbas’ demise, Fatah would likely crumble.

Preferable Israeli policy: accept the Hamas government de facto, talk to it, and either set realistic terms for unfreezing funds or forfeit the Palestinian money altogether.

Odd: Olmert again proclaims his respect for Abu Mazen.