Reconciliation must come before elections ~ by Khalid Amayreh

[ 25/07/2012 – 03:12 PM ]

From Khalid Amayreh in occupied Jerusalem

The elected speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council Prof. Aziz Dweik has criticized the Palestinian Authority (PA) for rushing to hold elections without guaranteeing minimal standards of freedom of speech, equal opportunity, transparency and fairness.

Speaking during a televised interview Tuesday, Dweik said the wise thing to do was to reconcile Palestinian differences before holding elections.

“Elections can only be the outcome of reconciliation, elections can’t be a substitution for reconciliation.”

Dweik, just released from a six-month captivity from Israeli jails, said elections themselves were not a goal per se.

“The goal is to put the Palestinian people in a better position to restore their rights and earn their freedom from the sinister Israeli occupation.”

Israel routinely detains Palestinian political leaders, including elected lawmakers, for prolonged periods without charge or trial.

There are currently more than 20 Palestinian lawmakers languishing in Israeli jails on frivolous and concocted charges stemming from their affiliation with Hamas. Hamas is the main Islamist party in Occupied Palestine and is considered the junior sister of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Israel, which millions of people around the world consider a crime against humanity for stealing Palestine from its native Palestinians and expelling them around the world, views Hamas as a terrorist group for resisting the Nazi-like Israeli occupation and insisting on the restoration of usurped Palestinian rights.

Dweik said he was planning to meet with PA leader Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the possibility of allowing the Palestinian Legislative Council to resume its activities.
Abbas telephoned Dweik Tuesday night to congratulate him on his freedom from Israeli custody.

The Council effectively stopped functioning following the ousting by Hamas of Fatah’s militia in Gaza in the summer of 2007 following American-backed plots involving Fatah to overthrow the democratically elected government.

Since then, PA police in Ramallah has disallowed legislative councilors to enter the building housing the council.

In the interview, Dweik said he was optimistic about the future of the Palestinian cause, saying Palestinian Islamists wouldn’t recognize Israel under any circumstances.

“For us, Palestine is Palestine, from the Mediterranean to the river Jordan.”

He praised the Egyptian revolution, saying that that former President Husni Mubarak conspired and connived with Israel against both Egypt and Palestine.

Dweik, whose mother is Egyptian, received a telephone call from Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi congratulating him for his release.

He criticized the PA for ignoring the plight of Palestinian lawmakers languishing in Israeli dungeons.

“These people represent Palestinian legitimacy. It is sad that the PA never raised their plight with visiting parliamentary delegations.”

The new Egyptian leadership said it would resume reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.

However, there are serious doubts as to whether the American-backed and Israeli-tolerated regime in Ramallah will be willing or able to walk in the path of reconciliation with Hamas given its umbilical security bonds with Israel.

Last week, an Israeli cabinet minister was quoted as saying that as far as Israel is concerned, the PA was a servant of Israel’s security needs.

“If the PA fails to perform its function, it loses its raison d’etre.”

Israel is unlikely to allow free and transparent elections in the West Bank, especially in East Jerusalem.

Israel, which doesn’t recognize the Palestinian people, or indeed a putative Palestinian state, complains that Hamas doesn’t recognize Israel. On several occasions, Israeli leaders said the PA would have to choose Israel or Hamas and that it couldn’t choose them both. The PA usually gives a flimsy response to these Israeli provocations which draws a serious question mark about PA commitment to reconciliation.

Similarly, Hamas’ leaders have consistently warned that there can be no true national reconciliation as long as the PA is bound by security agreements with Israel.

According to the security coordination agreement, reached under American mediation, the PA must work actively against the anti-occupation elements in the West Bank. The term anti-occupation elements connotes resistance groups, particularly Hamas.

The PLO did recognize Israel in 1993 as part of the Oslo Accords. However, Israel didn’t reciprocate by recognizing a potential Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967.

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