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Since the Palestinian Authority has no sailors on the high seas, only its security forces needed to start voting early yesterday. They will have to keep order in the general elections that will take place Wednesday in the Palestinian territories.

We are slowly being swept up in our own elections, only 65 days away, and we should lift our heads above the murky water from time to time and look at what is happening with our neighbors. The experts are making dire predictions about the whale who got stuck in the Thames River over the weekend; they say he is disoriented, and will probably not make it out on his own to the open sea and salvation. We must not find ourselves in the same situation as the confused and erring whale.

The Palestinians going to the polls are not to be envied; carrying out a democratic process under conditions of occupation is a difficult task, almost impossible; not only conditions of occupation, but of violent and armed anarchy. People, organizations and even groups within organizations are rising up against each other.

The whole thing may collapse in chaos and be stopped at the last minute, or the international observers may not approve the outcome because of problematic procedures.

Despite all the anxiety and concern, defects and limitations, we must admit that the Palestinians are doing what all other Arabs wherever they may be have not been able to do. Only in the territories, in total opposition to the entire Arab world, can clear signs of democracy actually be seen sprouting.

Additional polls published over the weekend predicted that Hamas and Fatah would be neck and neck. There is no longer any doubt that Hamas has grown stronger in recent months, and it now threatens Fatah's place at the top.

It is not because of suicide zealotry that Islamic fundamentalism has worked its way into people's hearts. The public in the territories has suffered quite a lot from Hamas' murderousness, and more suicide attacks will result in more and more painful strikes on our part.

The main reason Hamas has gotten stronger is not necessarily its war against Israel, but its war against the corruption that has spread throughout the PA. The Palestinian Arab people is fed up with the decay, the stink and the hedonism. If Fatah loses the elections or shrinks, it has only itself to blame - that its leaders waxed fat and kicked.

So we should not covet the limping democracy of the Palestinians. But it seems that on their side, they really have had enough of the corrupt, and payback has started. And what of us? Why has this not occured in the much-acclaimed Israeli democracy? How long will our corrupt continue to be elected and rejoice? Maybe we do have a reason to to be just a little envious.