The Palestinian Association for Empowerment and Local Development— REFORM concludes a public debate on the political parties’ absence in the light of the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on political participation
The Absence of Comprehensive National Planning
With the participation of Dr. Ramzi Sabah, a member of the Political Bureau of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ms. Kifah Harb, a member of the Revolutionary Council of the Fatah Movement, and Mr. Issam Bakr, a member of the Central Committee of the Palestinian People’s Party, the Palestinian Association for Empowerment and Local Development-REFORM implemented a public debate entitled: “The Political parties’ absence in light of the COVID-19 crisis. What is the impact of this on political work in Palestine?” This meeting aimed to highlight the impact of the absence of many Palestinian political parties and movements from the scene in light of the COVID-19 crisis. This meeting also aimed to shed light on the extent of the contribution of political forces in offering solutions and alternatives and their role in monitoring the government’s performance and raising awareness on potential shortcomings, as well as discussing the impact of their absence on the effectiveness of the presence of Palestinian youth in the public affairs.
The project’s facilitator, Mr. Fares Zawahra, a lawyer, initiated the session by discussing how political participation is linked to social responsibility, which is based on a balance between rights and duties; therefore, it is one of the most prominent features of democratic systems. The growth and development of democracy depends on the extent of participation, but participation is subject to economic, political, educational and personal conditions and factors of the individual and his/her society. The individual’s participation in political life also depends on his interest and the nature of the political climate.
Dr. Ramzi Sabah highlighted the absence of comprehensive national planning, especially the political parties, in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there were efforts made by the Palestinian political parties, such as their engagement in local emergency committees. Dr. Sabah further indicated that the disruption of the Palestinian democratic process is the cause of the fragmentation in collective efforts and Palestinian national work.
Social Protection for Palestinians
Ms. Kifah Harb explained that the COVID-19 crisis in Palestine requires all national and popular efforts, including political parties, in order to limit the spread of the virus. She also stated that everyone must do what they can to protect their communities from COVID-19, where young men and women should take part in local emergency committees without endangering their lives. Ms. Harb further indicated that youth today are discouraged because of the continued disruption of the work of the Legislative Council, which led to the deepening of the loss of the most important official instrument of oversight and accountability, especially accountability for the performance of the executive authority (the presidency, the government, and the security services.) She stressed that the absence of the role of the Legislative Council in monitoring and accountability for government actions and legislation has become something that must be addressed as soon as possible.
Mr. Issam discussed the Palestinian People’s Party’s role in providing social protection for the Palestinian people in light of these harsh conditions resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak. He also stressed the necessity to assist the hundreds of thousands of families who haven’t received their salaries, are poor and/or unemployed due to the lockdown. He further indicated that the People’s Party also monitors the government’s performance and the private sector in light of the COVID-19 crisis.
One of the participants, Sabreen Abu Libdeh, also discussed how the parties’ poor handling of the COVID-19 crisis has threatened the role of many political and community activists, especially young men and women. She further indicated that there is also a merit for Palestinian youth to attempt to end the division, hold general elections, of which youth can participate in, and reach decision-making positions to determine their fate.
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.