The vote for Hamas is an indictment of Fatah. It is a message that is being sent to the corrupt old guard that their day is over and no longer will their way of doing business be accepted. At least that is the noble and poetic version of it. I don't totally buy it.
It makes sense to me that a vote for Hamas is a vote against Fatah but I don't believe that the people were unaware of who Hamas is and what their principles are. I agree with this:
Daniel Pipes commented on the differences between Fatah and Hamas.
On the key question of their attitude toward Israel, Fatah is willing to negotiate with Israel to gain territory and other benefits, while Hamas on principle refuses to deal with the "Zionist entity." But the difference is between them is mostly illusory, as Fatah in fact engages in terrorism and Hamas does talk to the Israelis.
For reasons that somewhat escape my understanding, on this basis, Fatah is dubbed moderate and Hamas extremist; or, in the even more dramatic terms of an Associated Press headline today, "Palestinians choose between pursuing peace or confrontation with Israel." In fact, the differences between them are merely tactical; a more accurate headline would be "Palestinians choose between pursuing more overt or more covert destruction of Israel." Basically, Hamas speaks its mind and Fatah dares not. And Hamas provides the social services that Fatah cannot because its honchos have stolen the funds."
In short there are two groups that have been working towards eliminating Israel. Their methods have been somewhat different but they still share a common goal and as I mentioned earlier I believe that the Palestinians are well aware of this.
So people can call this an indicment of Fatah but I do not see it as a renunciation of violence or a repudiation of past methods of bringing peace.
However I agree that there are some potential positives. I prefer to work with people who are transparent in their goals. Hamas is very clear about their objective. Now that they are in the hot seat it is possible that this may force them to change and take a new tact.
Will it be enough to bring peace? I don't know. I think that a little time is required before we can really make an honest assessment. All I know is that at times it really is a crazy mixed up world.