The Lost Decade and the Prospect of Change

All Palestinians agree on the importance of holding elections after they were disrupted for more than a decade, during which freedoms were declined, social structures were fragmented, contradictions in structural frameworks followed, inclusiveness prevailed, the plurality of thought dissolved and the intellectual entity confined on the basis of political affiliation.

Written by: Oday AbuKarsh

All Palestinians agree on the importance of holding elections after they were disrupted for more than a decade, during which freedoms were declined, social structures were fragmented, contradictions in structural frameworks followed, inclusiveness prevailed, the plurality of thought dissolved and the intellectual entity confined on the basis of political affiliation.

On the day before the start of the electoral campaigns, the Palestinian scene is filled with many questions and speculation about the holding of elections. Perhaps the most important question that haunts the social and political elites today is whether or not the elections will be held on the specified date mentioned in the presidential decree. Despite everyone’s assertion of the sanctity of the deadlines set for their running on time, many of us are racing to deny assumptions that there are scenarios that may disrupt the entire process. “Each of us assumes a scenario and then publicly rejects the scenario that was assumed.”

In light of the chaos of assumptions, which entail many indications of the reality of trust within the political system that we are competing to run in, the value of questions on the shape and future of the political system will decline on 23th of May 2021, assuming that they occur on 22nd of May 2021. I think that this is an inevitable result of the years spent on the inability to manage our differences and attempts to create compatible versions of each other, which I concluded were useless prior to the presidential call for elections, and which became replaced by putting aside the years of difference and moving forward.

Moreover, the balance that ends each year is the same one that the new year begins with. Any change in the reality of that balance requires phases, that may be either long or short, to change it. Since the existing gaps in the social and organizational structures were not resolved prior to the call for elections, this means that we must continue with the same balance as before even if some of its features change. While reviewing that balance, we find an unprecedented decline – in the history of the Palestinian cause – in the political horizons, and a permanent stand on the edge of the financial inability of state institutions, and the flourishing of right-wing and extreme-right forces around the world. Therefore, there is a retreat in the international community’s stand by the Palestinian cause, in addition to the normalization agreements with some Arab countries and Israel along with many other issues at the international level, in which the Palestinian Legislative Council is not supposed to be the main player in it, but may be one of the drivers that work on it.  

At the internal level, we find hundreds of laws that require review, and the same laws that must be enacted. There are many issues, such as unemployment, the level of partnership of the various community components, the level of freedoms, health and education and tens of thousands of issues that represent the main focus of the next Palestinian Legislative Council’s work, which I do not see as isolated; rather, the extent of the controversy is intertwined with the aforementioned Palestinian issues on the international scene. For example, the solution to financial issues is completely linked to political solutions, which are related to building a sovereign state on its resources, the expected new legislations and its relation to the human rights system and international agreements. Further, the Palestinian Legislative Council must work within the dentition of a complete Palestinian will. If the gears do not rotate in the same direction, then it is unimaginable that the Legislative Council alone will be the only actor capable of fully expressing the Palestinian will, unless we want to live completely isolated from the international community. Therefore, it is necessary to ask: To what extent does the Palestinian society need to create consensus and objective conditions capable of facilitating the relationship between its political and social components in a way that enables the next Legislative Council to work independently of situations of polarization that may arise amongst its members?

In the event that the elections are held or fail to take place, could resorting to a state’s founding council, connected to the PLO and all political and social actors, be one of the solutions that could be resorted to? Its mission would be to frame the consensus on the form of the state and the relationship of the Palestinians to it, whether they are on its land or are abroad, and to oppose cases of polarization, exclusion and the strengthening of community partnership, respectively. This is one of the solutions that all countries which have witnessed cases of change resorted to. The council undertakes, under a consensual mandate, the creation of objective conditions for a peaceful transfer of power and develops ruling consensuses in those countries that have proven the will of their people by changing their systems of governance. Because of my belief that such a body may constitute a safe passage for a smooth transition in the form of change, and although such a step must be taken before the call for elections, there is still a great need to create a body that works to frame popular orientations of action at the national and international levels, and to address the voids in the structures of the political system.

Humankind has neither settled on getting accustomed to elections for the purpose of breaking heads nor was it organized for the purpose of excluding anyone; rather, it’s used to heal the gaps, organize the partnership of components with its political system, establish channels for change by the will of its people and actively participate in a system that they delegate to manage their affairs, trusting them with their lives, money, and most importantly their dreams and aspirations.

The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author and not necessarily the opinion of the Association or donor.

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