"Fair and transparent elections are seen by experts and policymakers as a necessary step in Palestinian democratization and for the peace process. In 2002, the Palestinian Authority (PA), under increasing internal and external pressure, announced a so-called '100-Day Reform Plan' for institutional reform and elections in order to rejuvenate PA leadership. The 2006 legislative elections were the final and perhaps most critical test for Palestinian democratic institutions. On the one hand, the Palestinian Legislative Council elections may improve the day-to-day lives of Palestinians, renew public confidence in the PA, and bolster the peace process. On the other hand, the clear-cut legislative victory of Hamas, which does not recognize the state of Israel and calls for an Islamized Palestinian state, may increase the possibility that Palestinians will find themselves isolated. Palestinian political reform is an important element in the U.S. policy of promoting democracy, civil society, and good governance in the Middle East."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33269