Jonah, Derb, those are good points.
Let me also note this: The election in Gaza and the West Bank was free and fair–up to a point. People could vote for either Hamas or Fatah and there is no evidence of ballot-tampering.
But no one should seriously believe that it would have been possible for dissident Palestinians to organize a serious alternative to Hamas and Fatah.
Imagine that some Palestinian had stood up on a soap box in Gaza City and said: “Vote for me and I’ll make peace with Israel immediately! We’ll have a Palestinian state and your children will leave in peace and freedom and prosperity!”
Such a candidate would have been shut dead on the spot.
In other words, as others have stated before, elections alone do not a democracy make. There also needs to be the rule of law, guaranteed minority rights and an open civil society–all of which is still severely lacking in the Palestinian territories.