Coverage and analysis of the recent Hamas victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections has been prolific. Most coverage, however, fails to look at this event in a broad historical context, as one of many features of the political and cultural landscape, and in so doing misses important elements of the message sent by Palestinians to their leadership, the international community and international civil society.

This election is one representation of the Palestinian unequivocal rejection of Israel's colonial and racist project of force-creation of a state exclusively for people of Jewish descent, not for the humans living within its borders or directly under its occupation. The reaction against this fundamental construct takes many forms, there are many different targets, but all those are borne from this fundamental fact.

The resistance against Israel's colonial-racist project was a vote for Hamas and against the Fatah-led Palestinian National Authority. The Fateh-led PNA had become both a prisoner and indispensible partner in a 'peace process' which served only to further Israel's colonial-racist project in historic Palestine. This vote unequivocally signals the end of the Oslo, which many see as having died some time ago. It has become abundantly clear that Oslo only made significant advances for Israel to prepare what at this point amounts to more than 50 percent of the West Bank for eventual annexation to Israel.

Of course, in line with Israel's project and to respond to its concerns of 'demography', the land needs to be annexed with as few natives as possible. There exists a cold calculus to the preparation of this land for inclusion in Israel, a calculus that maximizes land and minimizes Palestinians included on that land. This is the brutal rationale behind the circuitous path of the wall and elaborate closure, pass and permit systems which intentionally undermine economic viability of entire regions. In synchronized step with Israel's racist agenda, all these policies, which serve to make Palestinian survival in targeted regions nearly impossible, do not apply to Jews living in Israel nor to Jewish settlers in those targeted regions.

This is the rationale behind networks of highways without exits to Palestinian villages; highways which even when physically accessible to Palestinian areas are off-limits to them. These highways would, for instance, make transport of highly perishable goods and by extension an entire agricultural economy viable; an economy like the one in the Jordan Valley. The existence of a viable, let alone thriving economy, would not necessarily encourage Palestinian residents to remain, but would certainly not encourage them to leave. And, in keeping a broad historical perspective to check for consistency of analysis, these are projects carried in the shadow of the 1948 'land preparation' for the establishment of the state of Israel, which necessitated the expulsion of approximately 800 000 indigenous Palestinians by force from their land and homes.

Hamas understands another message from the Palestinians vote in the election when it stated in a 31 January 2006 Guardian OpEd: ?...our people are not only those who live under siege in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip but also the millions languishing in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria and the millions spread around the world unable to return home. ...? And, in this respect, the message through this vote expresses rejection of Fateh which did not take action against those from its own ranks who publicly undermined the right of return. Of note in the elections was the failure of campaigns by any individuals associated with the Geneva Accords which did not incorporate a realization of the right of return [the Geneva Accords allow for a number of returnees, a number to be decided by Israel] and included the clause that acceptance of the accords would surrenders any further claims or demands. Return of Palestinian refugees, while practicable and a right accorded under international law, would entirely undermine the mandate of the Israel Council for Demography, a committee including, among others, lawyers, scientists and gynecologists, which most recently convened 31 January 2006, with 2 agenda items: how to encourage Jewish women to have more children and the problem of foreign [read Palestinian] workers in Israel.

Israel affirms that it will advocate unilateralism if Hamas is in power and has demonstrated that they will advocate unilateralism if Hamas is not in power. It remains to be seen how Hamas will influence the political landscape in its new position and role. However, the message sent by these elections to international civil society is clear. International civil society must step-up where state actors have failed. The Palestinian Civil Society Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions provides direction. Through positive work in their institutions, people who support Palestinians' human rights are using these local strategies to make concrete positive advances to politics on a global level.

Wendy Ake is a former resident of Columbus, OH where she worked with The Committee for Justice in Palsetine on various initiatives including their divestment campaign. Currently, she works with Divestment Support Committee and the Columbus Community Radio Foundation in the US and works full-time at BADIL : Resource Center for Palestinian Residency & Refugee Rights in Bethlehem, Palestine where she lives.