2018-03-24 16:03 KST  
Global Voices Online - The world is talking. Are you listening?
Palestinians Turning the Page, Again
Jan. 25 Legislative Council Elections first in 10 years
Sam Bahour (news)     Print Article 
Published 2006-01-04 13:28 (KST)   
The pages of the Palestinian political history book turn very slowly, incredibly slowly. Palestinians have now completed presidential elections and the fourth round of voting to elect municipal and village councils in what has become a saga of multiple waves of local elections with a continuous series of postponements. Now, all eyes are on the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections that are set to take place on Jan. 25, more than half a decade late.

As in most societies, elections in Palestine ought to be the virtual fingers that turn political pages, usually closing a chapter and starting anew. Yet this has not always been the case for Palestinians. Under traditional leadership, with a stagnated political environment of internal hegemony and external Israeli military occupation, elections have been used over the years to entrench the already entrenched polity.

Add to this the multi-pronged foreign interventions, from Israel and over a dozen donor countries, into Palestinian society -- politically, economically, and socially -- and elections have become watered down to the point where they are no longer enough of a force to turn the pages of history.

All of that is about to change, at least we hope so. More importantly, we hope that such a change will move our political life forward and not create a multiplicity of participation, while paralyzing society at all levels. The fear of paralysis is real. Few countries, including countries-in-the-making like ours, renew every level of government in a short 12-month timeframe. Add to this the still evident lack of legal and legislative recourse, and the jitteriness in the Palestinian streets starts to make sense.

A new Palestinian Authority President was elected on Jan. 9th, 2005. The election was boycotted by Islamic factions -- Hamas and the Islamic Jihad -- and even so, President Mahmoud Abbas faced serious competition for the first time ever, taking 62 percent of the votes.

Four rounds of municipal and village council elections were orchestrated throughout 2005. Hamas and the Islamic Jihad participated and won significant seats across the Palestinian areas. More than a political systemic shift, this was a result of several factors: Palestinian despair after being battered by Israel for five years, following 38 years of living under Israeli occupation and 57 years of dispossession to make room for the creation of the State of Israel; the failure of the politically-appointed municipal and village councils to be held accountable over the past 10 years; and a loud and clear message to FATAH, the Palestinian ruling party, that it can no longer claim a monopoly on Palestinian politics. This message will be brought unequivocally home during the upcoming PLC elections later this month.

The PLC elections of Jan. 2006 will reshuffle the internal balances of power. Even before the elections, the process has shaken the very foundation that is supposed to carry the process forward. Modifications to the Palestinian election law were dealt with by an expired PLC body, as if it were a t-shirt to be ripped apart with the winner getting the largest piece.

All of this took place while Israel systematically moves ahead with destroying any remnants of a political horizon by daily ripping through what little remains of historic Palestine by continuing, unfazed, in building its illegal Separation Wall on Palestinian lands. In total, the Wall will run over 650 kilometers (400 miles) inside the West Bank. The Wall is being built deep within the West Bank as it zigzags throughout 10 out of the 11 West Bank districts. The Wall, on this path, de facto annexes nearly 50 percent of the West Bank and completely destroys all continuity of life in the region.

As lacking as the Palestinian electoral process is, it does begin a historic process of elections in a multi-party environment. Elections do wonders in and of themselves; that is, if the political system itself has an acceptable level of confidence. Such a level of confidence has been nearly lost in Palestine and, in consequence, regrettably, we will not realize the full power of elections this time around. Instead of expecting wonders, we should be positively looking at this one-year election season as concrete that has now been poured. What remains to be seen is whether it will actually dry in time and remain in place to hold the Palestinian political house together.

Regardless, we should remember the insightful words of the renowned Israeli journalist living in Ramallah, Amira Hass, when she suggested that Palestinians would be better off to start acting like a serious national liberation movement rather than fall for the trappings of statehood without a state. She said: "The Palestinian people [are] capable of withstanding terrible trials and tribulations: physical, psychological and economic. They can certainly face those trials if they become a means within the context of planned, coordinated and deliberately led strategic action meant to break the rules of the game that faked peace and statehood, rules that were set down in the days of Oslo and are coming back to deceive us now once again."

Hass boldly went on to say that, "In impersonating an ordinary 'government' to the world and to its people, at best it [the Palestinian Authority] is perceived as a corrupt and failing organization and at worst, as a sub-contractor for the bureaucracy of the occupation."

Palestine's future can only be shaped by Palestinian hands. Palestinian must rise to the occasion, not only to turn the page of history, but to rip out and then rewrite the last chapter of the chronicle that has imprisoned us in occupation like never before!
Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American businessman living in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian city of Al-Bireh. He is co-author of "HOMELAND: Oral Histories of Palestine and Palestinians" (1994) and may be reached at sbahour@palnet.com.
©2006 OhmyNews

Add to :  Add to Del.icio.usDel.icio.us |  Add to Digg this Digg  |  Add to reddit reddit |  Add to Y! MyWeb Y! MyWeb

Ronda Hauben
Netizens Question Cause of Cheonan Tragedy
Michael Werbowski
[Opinion] Democracy's Downfall
Michael Solis
Arizona's Immigration Bill and Korea
Yehonathan Tommer
Assassination in Dubai
[ESL/EFL Podcast] Saying No
Seventeenth in a series of English language lessons from Jennifer Lebedev...
  [ESL/EFL] Talking About Change
  [ESL/ EFL Podcast] Personal Finances
  [ESL/EFL] Buying and Selling
How worried are you about the H1N1 influenza virus?
  Very worried
  Somewhat worried
  Not yet
  Not at all
    * Vote to see the result.   
  copyright 1999 - 2018 ohmynews all rights reserved. internews@ohmynews.com Tel:+82-2-733-5505,5595(ext.125) Fax:+82-2-733-5011,5077