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What is after the preparatory committee meeting in Beirut?
By: Moatasem Hamadeh
January 23, 2017

The battle of the unifying National Council will remain the Palestinian street's battle with all its forces that are keen to end the division and restore the unified national program.

Three positive steps made by the Preparatory Committee of the Palestinian National Council.

The First, it met in Beirut, in a place that allows for all, within the PLO, and outside it, to attend without any political or security obstacles.

The Second, everyone responded to the call, which expressed the good will of all to reach a new consensuses and understandings, to open a new page with the Palestinian national situation and ending the division, towards the restoration of the internal unity: the unity of the PLO, and the unity of the program.

The third, it completed its initial meeting, and came out with an unanimous statement. It is true, that it did not specify a date for the convening of the unifying National Council, or in other words, a national council attended by everyone, but the statement created positive atmospheres , and called for the formation of a national unity government, that supervise on the election of a new national council, inside and abroad, and to agree on the members of the Council or on a formula, where there is a problem in organizing these elections, either for political reasons or for security or other reasons.

Perhaps the conclusion that can be reached , from the results of the first meeting of the Preparatory Committee, is calling the current National Council, to convene in Ramallah, even with those who attend, became «irrelevant», i.e. it is behind the back, and is no longer on the agenda of the Palestinian official leadership.

Thus, we can say that the Preparatory Committee by its meetings in Beirut, removed a mine from the path of the national case, which was about to explode and cause serious damages, if the official leadership had insisted on its opinion, at the invitation «to a national council with those who attend», in Ramallah, under the pretext of «the maintenance and the renewal of the Palestinian legitimacy», as if the convening of a national council attended by all «does not maintain and renew the legitimacy».

However,there were some voices rose in the Preparatory Committee meeting (Fatah was not among them) who wanted to emphasize its commitment to the holding of the Council in Ramallah, under the pretext of «maintaining the legitimacy», but these sounds seemed very weak, and they did not leave any impact in the final statement of the Committee.

The convention of the preparatory committee does not mean that the Palestinian conflicts disappeared, or that the road is now open to end the division and restore the internal unity, as the reasons of the division still existed.

The discussions of the parties reflected the wide differences in the political and regulatory views. We can go far and saying that some of the positions were closer to the maneuvers and the counter- maneuvers to lure and disclose the other's positions, in certain conversational techniques, which are to some extent part of the interactive conversational heritage in the Palestinian case (unfortunately).

Noting that the positions of all, are pre-known, and they are daily disclosed, in different media ways, therefore we believe that the Palestinian parties did not go to Beirut to explore each other’s positions, but they went to look for the common denominators again, and to reaffirm on what had been reached in previous stations, Cairo (2005), Gaza (2006), Cairo again (2011), as well as the Central Council of the PLO station (2015). However, the Preparatory Committee witnessed discussions about the mechanism of reaching to a national council attended by all, and ending the division.

The Point of conflict, as was manifested from the discussions, represented by the following: Does the unifying National Council form a gateway to end the division, or a conclusion to the ending of the division trip?

We believe that the difference between the two positions is so big , as Hamas consider it a gateway to end the division, that will be followed unifying steps, that lead to the re-formation of the institutions of the PA, including the formation of a national unity government that spreads its influence on the areas of PA, including the Gaza Strip.

Fatah, in its turn, to resolve the issue of the Gaza Strip, and to return it to the «legitimacy» which will be represented by the government of the PA, then will be the convention of the unifying National Council.

The compromise point - that was reached by the participants, as revealed by the final statement - is the need to form a national unity government , as a first step, because it is the necessary step to organize free, fair and transparent elections, at home and abroad, for the restructuring of the National Council on democratic foundations, outside the quota system, which would blow the work of the Preparatory Committee, especially since each of the Palestinian parties and has a point of view in its political weight . So it was agreed on the need to go to the elections, under the supervision of a national unity government shared by all, to reach to a new elected national council.

The formula of a new elected national council is the democratic formula, which provides the opportunity for everyone to run the political battle in the street, and each party to receive, via the ballot box, what it deserves.

It is true, that the way before the unifying National Council is not without barriers or obstacles, but we believe that it still needs efforts, pressures, movements and consultations, and perhaps more than the efforts, pressures, moves and the consultations that led to the formation of a preparatory committee attended by everyone.

First, the goal must be safeguarded: A Palestinian National Council, its population of 350 members (200 from inside and 150 from outside) elected under the proportional representation law, by the closed proportional list, and lowering the voting age to 21 years, and to promote the presence of women on the electoral lists and in the membership of the Council.

The council should take place «where everyone has access to it» (in one of the Arab capitals, for example). It should make a comprehensive political review and according to its basis , it re-gains the Palestinian unified national work program as its headlines were assigned by the document of 2006 and the decisions of the last session of the Central Council and the decisions of the Executive Committee, it should make also, a comprehensive regulatory review to re-elect (PLO bodies, the Executive Committee - which in turn elects its president in accordance with the adopted democratic tradition since 1969 - the Central Council, the CC committees that supervise the work of the Executive Committee), as well as the election of the Board of the national Fund, after submitting a full report on the Fund's work to separate between the finance of the PA and the PLO finance , to preserve the Fund's mechanism of action, in accordance with the decisions of the Council and the Executive Committee, away from the policy of uniqueness and unilateralism and self-feudal and malicious in the management of the Fund.

Such a council - in which all the Palestinian forces and the components of the Palestinian civil society at home and abroad are represented in it - is the one which would devote the internal unity: the unity of the PLO, the unity of the program, the unity of the people and the unity of its national legitimate rights.

Such a council also, would reintroduce the Palestinian national situation as a national liberation movement to the world public opinion, and would re-devote the Palestinian issue, as the first central issue of the Arab situation (nations and states).

But reaching to such council is a very complex struggling task that has obstacles before it. It will be faced by the division currents that have accumulated over the past years, and under the roof of the division, sectarian, social and financial interests for their own, and belong to the world of corruption.

This task also, will be faced by the authoritarian tendencies, which are affected by the national partnership formula, as the National Partnership restricts its unilateral policy and limits its convolution on the decisions and documents of the national consensus.

Such political battle requires a coordination between the positions, which are concerned in putting the new version of the National Council, and we believe that at the forefront of the involved parties in this matter, is the Palestinian street, as the battle of a new national council, and unifying institutions, and united national programs, is the battle of the Palestinian street, before being a battle of any of the forces' or the Preparatory Committee's.

Moatasem Hamadeh is a member of the Political bureau of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Translated by: Ibrahim Motlaq

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