Pal-Think for strategic studies has organized a discussion session on the consequences of no elections in Palestine. This comes to discuss a policy paper about the disastrous economic and political consequences resulting from the absence of the general elections. Also, the session sheds a light on the repercussions of such a protracted absence on the Palestinian economy.
In the opening statement of Omar Shaban, Palthink’s chairman and who played the role of the discussion moderator, he presented the first policy paper of “Pal-Think Academy for Democracy and Human Rights”, noting that the Academy consists of a variety of activities, mainly: a digital library, the first of its kind in Gaza which provides hundreds of references related to democracy and human rights, a space for young researchers to post their scientific products, and a chance for others to explore upcoming workshops and discussion sessions about democracy and human rights.
Shaban also mentioned Pal-Think’s sustainable efforts to address the cumulative ripple effects of the 2007 Palestinian division, and said ‘This session leads to an in-depth analysis of the economic, political and social repercussions of the absence of elections, and it contributes to our understanding of how to respond to such compelling circumstances.
The policy paper was authored by three researchers: Omar Alrahal from Ramallah, Yehya Quod from Gaza and Neda Owena from Bethlehem.
The authors of the policy paper delivered a very detailed explanation of the consequences caused by the absence of elections where Neda started to clarify its impact on family, youth and society. She said: “The absence of elections means the absence of laws protecting the family and if we look at the last official statistics, we will find that 58% of women suffer domestic violence, and each woman has at least suffered domestic abuse once in their lives. We will not address this dilemma without a legislative council”.
Dr Yehea Qaod, in his turn, talked about the consequences of elections’ absence on many levels, mainly on the political level as it distorted the roles of authorities, and expired the legitimacy to represent the Palestinians, thus these led to the lowering the importance of the Palestinian cause.
Omar Rahhal stated that Palestinians were glad when there was an upcoming election as it has always been a tool to activate democracy, but then they became disappointed with the decree postponing it. He added:” We cannot talk about elections unless it is fair and free and with the participation of everyone because the elections are not a goal itself, but it is more of a tool”. He ended his speech by stressing the fact that the trust of the international community has regressed since there are no elections to be held.
In the provision of feedback on what the policy paper had presented, the political and governance researcher Jihad Harb commented:” the expiry of the presidential and legislative legitimacy in 2010 resulted in an absence of the legal and constitutional legitimacy. He explained that the absence of elections will gradually turn the political system into an authoritarian regime which means no separation of powers and no monitoring authority besides; it will allow some beneficiary officials to exploit their positions for personal, political and financial interests.
Meanwhile, the international law specialist Dr Samia Alghussain accentuated: “The Palestinian division has affected every stage of life. We don’t have a unified political system to confront internal and external challenges”. She also clarified that the legislative division is very dangerous as there are still laws from the Egyptian and the Jordanian administrations as well as laws before and after the division. The election’s absence and the non-existence of a legislative council have impeded the enacting of many important laws related to family protection, the right to information and many others.
In the end, the academic politician Wajeh Abo Zarifah stated: ‘The legal environment largely contributes to conducting an electoral operation and those who control the electoral procedures are those who control the administration in public life weather they are political powers or division powers who apparently have not yet realized that the democratic operation can solve all current dilemmas”
To conclude, many questions and interventions were arisen by the audience, mainly about: if the current crises are caused by the election’s absence or by the political system itself, the real role of the national elites and the civil society institutions in addressing the ongoing crises, the effect of political factions’ ideologies informing the political crises, the role of external interventions in the Palestinian crises, the feasibility of separating PA and the PLO, and the necessity of adding democracy concepts in the Palestinian curriculums.
The session is within the activities of the project entitled “Pal-Think Academy for Democracy and Human Rights”
The project is supported by the German Federal Foreign Office’s funds by ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen), Funding Programme zivik.