REFORM implemented an online dialogue session to highlight the decline in political participation amongst Palestinian youth after the division and the impact of the disruption of the democratic process since 2007.
The Division’s Impact on the Palestinian Civil Society
The Palestinian Association for Empowerment and Local Development— REFORM implemented an online dialogue session entitled: “The Impact of the Division on the Process of Democratization.” This session highlighted the decline in political participation amongst Palestinian youth after the division, the most important challenges that the process of democratic transformation encounters in Palestine, the impact of the disruption of the democratic process since 2007 and the reasons behind the failure of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Mr. Munjid Abu Jaish, a member of the Political Bureau of the Palestinian People’s Party, Mr. Hakam Talib, member of the Political Bureau of the Popular Struggle Front, and Mr. Afef Jaffal, Director of the Arab World Democracy and Electoral Monitor, participated in this session.
The facilitator, Dr. Khalil Abu Karsh, initiated this session by discussing the importance of political participation, as it is the essence of citizenship. He further indicated that it is the practical expression of the voluntary social contract, as political participation re-produces the social contract and is capable of ending the division. He also added that it is an expression of citizenship where it links political participation to the implementation of the electoral system.
Mr. Munjid Abu Jaish discussed the impact of the Palestinian division on the international position of Palestine and its people. He further added that the division has also affected the Palestinian civil society, of which it has restricted Palestinian civil work. Mr Munjid also highlighted how the division directly affected women and youth through the absence of the Legislative Council through the disruption of the democratic process even within the democratic parties that have always featured new leaders from all segments of society.
Restoring democratization of the Palestinian political system
In turn, Mr. Hakam Talib shed light on the suffering of the Palestinian people for more than thirteen years as a result of the division, which affected all levels, caused great harm to the democratic process and the status of the Palestinian cause and led to the fragmentation of the land and people. In order to end this situation, political pluralism must be protected and the democratically elected parliamentary system must be activated by the people in order to implement the holding of elections every four years as stipulated in the Palestinian Basic Law, to enact laws that respond to the needs of citizens and to monitor the performance of the executive branch to enhance democratic and legislative life.
Moreover, Mr. Afef Jaffal discussed the Palestinian democratic experience at the level of the Palestinian Authority between 1996 and 2006 and reviewed the role of the Legislative Council and the accountability of governments. He further indicated that with the emergence of the Palestinian division, the entire legislative process was terminated. In turn, this negatively reflected on the political participation of women and youth due to the absence of institutions that young men and women resort to within the structure of the Palestinian political system, such as legislative and monitoring institutions.
One of the participants, Muhera Bannat, discussed how the role of political parties can be used as tools to link the government and its citizens and the need to raise the level of political awareness, to enhance the concept of citizenship and to support national integration and the development of public policies. She further stressed the importance of overseeing decision-makers and influencing decision-making through its functions, through expressing political demands, concepts and beliefs.
At the end of the session, the young men and women participants came out with a set of recommendations that consisted of reviewing the parties’ vision in order to allow young people to participate in leadership bodies, the necessity of joint work between the components of the political system to restore the democratization of the Palestinian political system, the importance of providing safe spaces for women and youth to reach decision-making positions within parties and public institutions and the necessity in forming a youth safety net to be the incubator of a national dialogue in order to end the division and restore order to the Palestinian democratic process.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
This meeting comes as part of the “PARTAKE II,” which is implemented by the Palestinian Association for Empowerment and Local Development – REFORM, in partnership with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. This project aims to promote the socio-political participation of women and youth and provide equal access mechanisms that enable them to engage in organizing policies responsive to their needs.
The project also seeks to foster civic engagement by providing safe and interactive spaces that link young activists with decision-makers to bridge the gaps between them by knowledge sharing. It aims to enhance the participation of young women and men in advocating for positive change in democratic processes through monitoring public policies, drafting policy papers, and providing policy suggestions.
To achieve this, the project provides the social and political activists with the ability to engage in a deep analysis of power dynamics between different social components and points of access through facilitating public debates. “PARTAKE II” increases youth’s awareness in democratic processes and enhances their abilities in pressuring policymakers to hold elections with their participation.