Palestine – Bring On The Elections…writes David Singer

February 8, 2013 by David Singer
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Democracy continues to be seen nowhere in “the State of Palestine” – whilst Israel’s choice for next Prime Minister – Benjamin Netanyahu – is engaged in the usual machinations involved in putting a coalition together to govern Israel for the next four years.

Such political comings and goings are being eagerly followed by a free press commenting with gay abandon on every twist and turn in the daily developments – as their avid readership devours the opinions of dozens of different commentators in newspapers and on radio, television and the internet with very different political viewpoints.

The 2003 Bush Roadmap For Peace – supposedly still the basis on which the long -stalled negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (defunct since 3 January 2013) were being conducted – was uncompromising in its final destination:

“A two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will only be achieved through an end to violence and terrorism, when the Palestinian people have a leadership acting decisively against terror and willing and able to build a practicing democracy based on tolerance and liberty, and through Israel’s readiness to do what is necessary for a democratic Palestinian state to be established, and a clear, unambiguous acceptance by both parties of the goal of a negotiated settlement as described below.”

Any attempt by the “Palestinian people” to have any say in electing a leadership that will act decisively against terror and ending violence and terrorism has been silenced since 25 January 2006  – when their votes elected Hamas as winner of the elections with 74 seats to Fatah’s 45 – providing Hamas with the majority of the 132 available seats and the ability to form a majority government of its own.

The people chose the wrong horse if they expected violence and terrorism would end – but then they have to live with their choice until they get another chance to change their minds.

That is surely the essence of democracy – that there is an “out” – the ability of the people to regularly express their confidence or otherwise in the people they have elected.

However the people have not been given this opportunity since 2006.

The elected Prime Minister – Ismail Haniya – was unceremoniously dumped by Palestinian Authority President – Mahmoud Abbas – on 15 June 2007 on the basis of “national emergency”.

This has resulted in bitter internecine strife between Hamas and Fatah ever since – that has seen the human rights of hundreds of thousands of the electorate abused in an orgy of violence, killing and detention without trial.

Frequent attempts to effect a reconciliation have failed – and will continue to fail – as both pursue very different political goals and objectives.

The people need to be the circuit breakers in this long running dispute – but indications are they will not be allowed to have their say.

Meantime – President Mahmoud Abbas continues to hold the reins of power as an unelected and unconstitutional President – whose term expired on 9 January 2009.

Due to the conflict he had created by dismissing Haniya in 2007 –  Abbas unilaterally extended his term for another year and still continues in office in 2013 even after that second deadline expired.

As a result – Hamas announced that it would not recognise the extension or view Abbas as rightful president.

Yet Abbas is still given the full Presidential treatment internationally wherever he travels.

Following Abbas’s election as President on 9 January 2005 – David Carroll, acting director of the Democracy Program and an active member of the Carter Center -NDI observer delegation to that election – discussed the election process, its outcome and the wider implications for Middle East Peace.

He was asked the following question and gave the following response

What does this election mean to democracy in the region
Carroll: Many people see the Jan. 9 presidential election as an opportunity for a new leader to recommit to the peace process and make real progress in negotiations with Israel. In addition, however, the election sets an important example for the Arab world; it shows Arab peoples and leaders that citizens’ yearnings for democracy can and should be met, and that democratic renewal strengthens political legitimacy. Further, like the recent elections in Indonesia, the Palestinian election is a reminder that Islam and democracy are not incompatible.

Carroll may indeed be proved right if events of the past few years in Yemen, Libya, Egypt and Syria are indicators.

The real test of democracy however is not the first election – it is the second election.

Sadly  – any such moves to allow citizen yearnings for democracy continue to be denied in the one Islamic area where it is essential they be allowed – the West Bank and Gaza.

Whilst this sorry state of affairs continues the following words of the Bush Road Map remain meaningless:

A settlement, negotiated between the parties, will result in the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours.

Those non-democratic states supporting a fictitious “State of Palestine” – headed by an unconstitutional President, an unelected Government with an unelected Prime Minister and a far from free press – will certainly be unable to grasp the importance of elections to allow the people to have their say after seven years of enforced silence.

The world’s democracies should know better.

“Bring on the elections” should be their unified and rallying demand.

Perhaps President Obama should whisper such words in Abbas’s ear when he meets with him next month.

Whilst the democracies remain silent – Jews and Arabs will continue to bear the scars of war and conflict.

David Singer is a Sydney Lawyer and Foundation Member of the International Analysts Network

Comments

11 Responses to “Palestine – Bring On The Elections…writes David Singer”
  1. Liat Nagar says:

    Yes, Paul, that sums it up perfectly. So, what a lot of hot air, all the platitudes and protests of politicians internationally, as well as pro-Palestinian supporters everywhere. Fancy giving so much energy to a fantasy that is in fact a nightmare of major proportions, due to the Arabs themselves.

  2. Paul Winter says:

    As my previous comment on this article vanished into the ether, I’ll try again.

    As true as it is that abu Mazen’s mandate expired in 2009, it must be kept in mind that the democratically elected Hamas’ mandate expired in 2010.

    What are more important than elections are that: neither local Arab regime has the authority to enter into any treaty, something that defines a state and both regimes repudiate the conditions that ruled out Hamas from talks. Hamas refuses to recognise Israel as the state of the Jewish people, it rejects previous agreements and it fails to renounce violence.

    It is sheer insanity of Israel to play the international community’s cynical and silly game of baying for Israel to negotiate with an illegitimate entity especially as it – the PA – has refused to recognise Israel as the state for the Jewish people, it has renounced past agreements by altering its status (as well as other ones on water, incitement, state building) and apart from threatening war (using the funny term ‘intifada’), it has engaged in lawfare and all areas of conflict short of shooting, and even that has been resorted to at times.

    Arab elections are not welcomed by Israel of the Arabs. Israel does not want them because Hamas would be elected and it would need to take decisive steps in Judea and Samaria for its own security. The Arabs don’t want elections because Fatah would lose in Judea and Samaria and Hamas does not want elections in Gaza because it has lost popularity and it goes against its anti-democratic ethos. Hamas, like the Moslem Brotherhood, wants to rule the world by the canon and the cannon.

  3. Liat Nagar says:

    Ben,
    After David’s lucid and comprehensive account of the whole existing situation, your posting is extraordinary for its narrowness, and insulting for what it ignores. Why do you not speak to any of the points made and the discussion following, except to root out the words ‘violence’ and ‘terror’ and make a couple of statements around those that focus on Israel only? I’ll admit to my question being a rhetorical one, posed simply to point out the inadequacy of your response. It doesn’t matter that you might disagree with what is said, however it matters very much that you continue to ignore real and salient facts that have shaped, and continue to shape, the ongoing situation between Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. It is not possible to consider or discuss this matter without taking into account the Palestinian politics and actions involved, or the history for that matter. Your continuing responses become boring, not only because they don’t alter in any way, but also because what they leave out – what you choose to avoid – is the ‘why’ of things. Why do we need checkpoints and military posts? Why do some houses have to be demolished? Ask yourself ‘why’ to everything you’ve stated in this last posting, and if you don’t know the answer, research and study the subject, from every angle and perspective. Then you might be able to do better than make the same old statements time after time. It’s your prerogative to feel strongly about these issues and hold any opinion you want to, however it’s also your responsibility to educate yourself in as unbiased a way as possible to find the more complicated truth.

  4. Ben Eleijah says:

    End to violence and terror – obviously that means stopping setlements, placing armed settlers among Palestinians, demolishing houses, building exclusive roads, expanding checkpints and military posts and reducing the West Bank into enclosed open prisons. But that and a blockade on gaza do not amount to terror.

    • Paul Winter says:

      If you would bother to check your facts instead of spouting Arab propaganda, you might just get in touch with reality.

    • david says:

      Ben

      Continuing to answer your pointless mantra is a waste of time. .

      Answer just this one queston – “Yes” or “No”:

      Do you support the Arab residents of the West Bank and Gaza being given the right to vote for the first time since 2006?

      • Ben Eleijah says:

        I support equal rights and a right to vote for the Arabs. It is Zionists who deny equal rights to Palestinians. If you dfend the equal rihts than there shouldn’t be an aparthied regime of civilian rule for Jews and military rule for Arabs. A right to vote when under Israeli military rule is no great achievement. It is meaningful if they can choose a sovreign government to represent them and their interests, no chose a head of a bantustan which can only collaborate with the occupying power.

        • david says:

          Ben

          Let’s try again

          “Yes” or “No”

          Do you support Hamas and the PLO calling fresh elections in Gaza and the West Bank to allow the Arabs living in these areas the right to decide who should now govern them since the last opportunity given to them to do so in 2006?

        • Paul Winter says:

          Well, since you haven’t replied to David’s question, it seems that either you are still trying to comprehend it or awaiting instructions from your mentors. The issue is whether Arabs should have a say in who governs them or if the traditional Arab version of democracy – one man, one vote, one time – should prevail.

          And just to lift your fog: Israeli Arabs vote; Arabs that came under Israeli control as a result of a war that they started are not entitled to decide Israeli matters unless and until Israel makes them citizens. And Israel want them no more than Kuwait, Lebanon, Jordan or Egypt.

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