[News] Palestine - Under an iron fist
news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Dec 19 17:19:10 EST 2006
Under an iron fist
Karma Nabulsi, The Electronic Intifada, 19 December 2006
US secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Palestinian President
Mahmoud Abbas shake hands after a press conference in the West Bank
town of Ramallah November 14, 2005.
(<http://www.maannews.net>MAANnews/Charlotte de Bellabre)
Palestinians don't want fresh elections in the occupied territories,
but a free vote for a truly national ruling body.
"Let the people decide for themselves what they want," declared
Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, yesterday. But
there already is a national consensus, an underlying unity in a
common platform. The Palestinian people are agreed: indeed there must
be Palestinian elections, but not another round of elections in the
occupied Palestinian territories, for a president of the Palestinian
Authority or for its legislative council.
The elections that all Palestinians are demanding today (the millions
under occupation and the millions in the refugee camps outside) are
for the Palestine National Council, the parliament in exile, which is
the national body that represents all Palestinians. The PNC is the
institutional body that forms the sovereign base of the Palestine
Liberation Organisation, which is the sole legitimate representative
of the Palestinian people, recognised as such by the United Nations,
the Arab League, the US the EU, and the Palestinian people themselves.
The Palestinian people under occupation have already elected a
legislative council under occupation that represents a portion of the
body politic. Today Palestinians demand elections for the entire
Palestinian population. The prisoners' "document of national unity",
agreed this summer, reflects that popular demand, and made it a
primary article of consensus and agreement between the parties.
The moment Fatah lost power in the legislative elections to Hamas in
January, it was obliged to take a step that would have brought it
closer to the people it sought to represent. It was obliged to step
aside, accept the outcome of that election, and the brute fact that
its party had been defeated. In this way it could have availed itself
of the many democratic benefits that accrue to those who lose power
in an election: the opportunity to reconnect to constituents, to
learn why they had lost, to discover what they had to do to regain
their people's trust, to encourage them to cease being leaders who
worked for others, and begin the difficult but rewarding process of
becoming representatives again.
Instead, they were told they were still in power, and told by the
"international community" they had to play this role or take
responsibility for abandoning their suffering people to even more
cruel fate than what they were currently enduring in Gaza and the
West Bank and occupied Jerusalem.
And so, what we are witnessing today is the horrific and inevitable
outcome of a process of deliberate coercion, designed to force an
occupied people to surrender their elected representatives. That this
coercion is being carried out by the iron fist of military occupier
Israel, which is withholding vital Palestinian taxes, and its neocon
backers, the US administration, is to be expected - and to be resisted.
What is harder to understand is just how this coercion can be so
flagrantly insisted upon by the British, by the European Union, by
the very actors who should be standing by the Palestinians - if not
for the shared common values of decency and morality, then as part of
their contractual responsibilities as co-signatories to the fourth
Geneva convention, obligating them both to respect and ensure respect
of the treaty that protects a civilian population under military occupation.
The Palestinian people have indeed already spoken: for elections to
the Palestine National Council, for lifting the economic boycott of a
democratically elected authority; for liberty and to independence.
Karma Nabulsi teaches politics and international relations at Oxford
University. She is the author of
of War: Occupation, Resistance and the Law.
The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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