Representatives of NGOs, human rights activists and journalists emphasized the need to intensify and unify efforts pushing for holding comprehensive elections based on the national consensus, ending the internal political division, and guaranteeing the inclusive participation of all Palestinians.
This came during a workshop organized by PNGO in cooperation with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in Gaza entitled “Elections towards Democracy and National Unity Achievement”, within the project “Engagement of the Civil Society in Reconciliation and Palestinian Unity”
In his statement, Taysir Muhaisin, Member of the coordinating body of the Palestinian NGOs Network, confirmed the network’s continuous striving to pressure and raise the voice despite all challenges in the Gaza Strip especially and Palestine in general. This is achieved through continuing to hold such workshops as a form of pressure to achieve reconciliation and national unity. It is also considered as a catalyst for further dialogue and discussion on elections, which are of great importance in national dialogue and democratization.
He stressed that Civil Society Organizations must develop an integrated vision on the elections and ways to conduct them within the framework of national consensus in order to achieve democracy.
The director of the Friedrich Ebert in Gaza, Dr. Osama Antar, pointed to the effectiveness of partnership with PNGO network and the importance of these workshops and panels in promoting awareness, and through dialogue and constructive discussion.
Dr. Antar also warned of a real crisis in the Gaza Strip, and the new elections may be the solution to this crisis. He stressed the importance of the role of civil society organizations in pressuring towards the elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and working to end division and strengthen the steadfastness of Palestinians who lives a humanitarian reality, which is the most difficult in the history of the Gaza Strip.
Political analyst, Talal Okal, emphasized in his paper entitled “Elections within the Palestinian political framework,” that the Palestinian elections are opening doors of hope for political détente and the rearrangement of the Palestinian politics. He also called for building a national consensus and ending the political division to move towards elections based on democracy and the complementary political system, which is based on the people as a source of authorities and building a system of partnership
and smooth handover of authorities.
He also confirms the importance of realizing the elections function in the environment and the Palestinian condition, making it impossible to hold free and fair local or public elections under occupations and its policies. The internal division can not provide a free and fair atmosphere for any electoral process before the reunification of civilian and security organizations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on the basis of a common political program and unified leadership.
He said first there must be agreement on a comprehensive national vision to rebuild national unity, achieve reconciliation and agree on a common political program that would serve to rebuild the unified national organizations at the level of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, and to unify the judiciary and the public prosecution.
From his side, Deputy Director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Hamdi Shaqqoura, said in his paper entitled “Elections in the framework of human rights” that the elections are a demand and necessity, and the people are eager to hold elections in light of the collapse of the political system and the justice system and protection mechanisms.
He stressed that there can be no elections except in the presence of a reconciliation dialogue and national dialogue inclusive of all political parties and create the good conditions for them and raise awareness of all sectors of our people around.
Shaqoura highlighted that the absence of the legislative authority due to the division led to the absence of legislative and oversight functions, as well as the absence of popular accountability due to the absence of elections.
In their interventions, the participants emphasized of the need for holding comprehensive elections in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and amending the elections law in accordance with full proportional representation, enhancing the participation of youth and women, and providing guarantees for their conduct and respecting their results.