Helena Cobban in the Boston Review:
In January 2006, in an election that monitors recognized as free and fair, the Islamist movement Hamas won 76 of the 132 seats in the Palestinian parliament. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had pushed hard for the elections, since she was confident her Fateh allies would win. Hamas’s victory came as a complete surprise and embarrassment to both her and the Fateh leaders. Angered by the Hamas victory, Rice and Fateh decided to join with Israel in working to overturn it.
Israel and the United States rapidly defined three tough conditions for dealing with the new Palestinian government and vowed that as long as it refused to meet these conditions they would quarantine and attempt to undermine it. The conditions—that the new government recognize Israel, renounce all use of violence, and commit to observing all agreements signed by previous, Fateh-led Palestinian governments—were considerably more stringent than those defined for opposition forces included in successful peace negotiations in South Africa or Northern Ireland, or indeed, in nearly all negotiations over decolonization in decades past.
The Hamas leaders refused to meet the conditions.