Freedom of expression is a right guaranteed by law, as is the right to demonstrate and protest, and any attack on demonstrators is a crime that requires accountability.
Written by: Abdel Ghani Salameh
After the death of the political activist Nizar Banat, a serious political crisis occurred in the West Bank in addition to many demonstrations across several cities. Since the incident wasn’t addressed quickly and transparently, the demonstrations increased. In return, there were many confrontations between the security services and demonstrators. The Fatah Movement also held large demonstrations in various cities of the West Bank to demonstrate its strength in the street, and in response to what it considered a conspiracy against Fatah.
In the Gaza Strip, the Ministry of Interior in the de facto government in the Gaza Strip announced the death of a young man, Hassan Abu Zayed, after he was shot by the border police in Al-Tuffah neighborhood, east of Gaza City. As a result, the economic and social crisis intensified.
Israel and various regional parties began to interfere, either through the reconstruction of Gaza, or by participating in demonstrations against the corruption of the authority, demanding it to be overthrown (instead of demanding its reform) and discrediting the PLO, in preparation for its destruction and termination.
These developments revealed the fragility of the structure of the Palestinian political system, and led to a further decline in the popularity of the Palestinian Authority, especially with the difficult economic conditions. In light of these crucial challenges, and in order to avoid all these dangers, heal the rift and bring down any scheme targeting the Palestinian cause, the Palestinians (authority, organizations and the public) must regain the initiative based on the following:
At the popular level:
The Palestinians must be aware of the challenges’ magnitude and seriousness of the stage, as this requires a national commitment and a sense of responsibility in order to rise above the contradictions and partisan fanaticism and to place the national interest above factional interests. This will lead to the unification and fortification of the home front, emphasizing that Palestine is greater and more important than all organizations; and that who represents the Palestinian people is the PLO, regardless of our current position on its performance and our satisfaction with its leadership.
At the national level:
- Parties and factions complement one another, as well as popular and civic organizations and civil society organizations. All are partners in the homeland, in struggle and in sacrifice. Free elections are what will bring about the leadership of the new phase.
- National unity is the safety valve and a prerequisite for achieving any political accomplishment. Unity is not only achieved through written understandings between the factions, but is embodied on the ground by the people’s solidarity, adherence to the national goal and when the Palestinian flag is raised instead of the factions’ flags.
- Campaigns of treason and accusations must be stopped, along with the recording of outbursts and prioritizing internal contradiction over the primary conflict.
- Professional unions, popular unions, NGOs and all civil society organizations should be aware of their national role through political participation. This requires them to start holding their internal elections and giving youth an opportunity.
- Increasing unarmed resistance and supporting the struggles of Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, Beita, Beit Dajan and Kafr Qaddoum, along with many others at the official level.
- Inviting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to hold a general meeting that includes all factions, national forces and representatives of popular frameworks and unions to hold a comprehensive national dialogue to address all issues of the Palestinian issue in order to achieve national unity and internal reform, to call for the holding of elections at the earliest opportunity, in preparation for ending the division and rebuilding the Palestinian political system.
- Holding elections is an urgent necessity, not only in order for the public to let out their anger and contain their contradictions in a peaceful manner, but also in order to renew the blood of the authority, revitalize political and parliamentary life and increase political participation for all.
- Rejection of the principle of political arrest, whatever its justifications, and condemnation of torture and humiliation in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
- Enhancing respect and application of the law and agreement on national and humanitarian principles that respect the life of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and West Bank and preserve his/her dignity.
- Freedom of expression is a right guaranteed by law, as is the right to demonstrate and protest, and any attack on demonstrators is a crime that requires accountability.
- Complete Nizar Banat’s investigation as soon as possible and bring the perpetrators to trial.