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National Reconciliation… From the Law’s point of view.

In Cooperation with BAR Association in Gaza PalThink Centre for Strategic Studies held a workshop entitled “National Reconciliation… From the Law’s point of view”. Twenty five legislative personnel and thinkers representing different fields participated in the workshop. This workshop was an extension to workshops held by Pal Think Centre within its interest in National Reconciliation and its attempt to bridge the rift between disputing parties; namely between Hamas and Fateh.

Mr. Salama Bseeso, Vice President of BAR Association opened the workshop by presenting a legal explanation of events occurring on the 14th of June 2007 in Gaza Strip. Mr. Bseeso commented on the catastrophic situation of people in Gaza. This includes political and economic siege that correlates with the Palestinian status of division. He stressed that this division represented a precedent in the Palestinian history; as it led to unavailability of legal texts which can deal with the situation. This situation is extremely complex and full of disadvantages which lead to deterioration. Nevertheless, reconciliation is still possible and realistic. Mr. Bseeso presented his perspective to solve the problem and achieve the national reconciliation:

– Commitment of previous agreements between Hamas and Fateh, e.g. Mecca Agreement.

– Commitment of basic law as a reference.

– Direct dialogue between Hamas and Fateh.

– Respect the legitimacy of the President and the Constitution.

– Respect circulation among different authorities.

– Agreement on Arab references for any initiative for a solution

– Halting incitement campaigns through media.

– Taking practical steps toward bridging the gap between the two parties.

– Launching a comprehensive national dialogue involving intellectuals and academics.

– Holding of legislative and presidential elections.

Mr. Omar Sha’ban, chairman of PalThink for Strategic Studies, asked many questions which highlighted many legal issues and formed a base for interaction in the workshop. Questions included:

1. What does it entail by “returning the situation to what it was”?,

2. Is Hamas’ refusal to apologize justified?

3. Is the determination of the President reflect his intention to criminalize Hamas for what it did in June 07?

4. Are decisions after June obligatory?

Mr. Sha’ban added that many issues should be taken into consideration. This includes that legal terminology was used to justify what was done by the two parties. Participants varied in their diagnosis of problems and proposed different solutions and recommendation. Some participants were sarcastic about the use of Law as a tool for reconciliation as Law is not being respected by the two parties if not marginalized and neglected most of the time. Other participants attributed the reason for marginalizing of the Law to the interest of ruling-class. Other participants expressed their thoughts of having problems in the Law itself “ It was designed for self-ruling territories and not for an independent state which control its will and decisions”. They commented that what happened in June was expected and reflect the status of Palestinian Political System.

The essential difference between Hamas and Fateh Programs and support from regional sides also contributed to division which took place in June. Participants commented on the inability to advocate the role of the Bar to take its responsibility toward what is happening in Gaza. The Bar should represent the umbrella of Law and should play essential role toward achieving the reconciliation. Some commented that unions and Bars were marginalized throughout different ruling-governments. Nevertheless, the Lawyers’ bar mustn’t be exempted from its responsibility as the most equitable body to ….

Few attendants expressed their surprise for the absence of such workshops about the role of law since the events of June 2007. They appreciated the role of PalThink Centre for its contributions and for this serious initiative toward activating the legal unions toward resolving current dilemmas.

At the end, participants presented their recommendations and suggestions:

5. Cooperation of advocates’ bar with the National Reconciliation committee to adopt a serious of initiatives related to the situation from a legal perspective.

6. Implementing the provisions of law in all events which took place before and after June 2007.

7. Lawyers must stand at front lines in defence of legal issues.

8. Clarifying the concepts which eventually will lead to determining the responsible side for June 07 events as a step towards ‘Law implementation’.

9. Bar association to set up community court to prove who is guilty in previous events.

10. The form a Constitutional court to monitor the work of the Executive and the Legislative authorities.

11. To hold a referendum on whether to hold early elections or not and follow it up later with the implementation of the results of the referendum.

12. New Initiative of national and Islamic forces supported by the political parties and has its support and reference by the Arab League.

13. Working on legal researches about questions that hinder the reconciliation.

14. Holding more workshops about current emergency issues.

15. NGOs must take their roles and responsibilities toward reconciliation.

Date: 12/4/2008

Place: Bar Association, Gaza

Participants: 25 participants

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