By Mohammad Arafat
Finally, the first step of a promising reconciliation between the two main political parties in Palestine is about knock the rusty door of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. The local elections will be that step, which will take place in Palestine on October 8. Unfortunately, many Palestinians are still pessimistic about any such event, despite voter registration having already taken place three weeks ago.
Brief History of Independent Elections in Palestine
Since the formation of the Palestinian National Authority in 1994 led by the former president, Yasser Arafat, Palestine began to have elections as an authority until 2013, when it was recognized as a non-member observer state in the United Nations.
Several elections have been held in Palestine since 1994 including presidential, legislative, and local elections:
-In 1996, the first elections were held to elect a president for the Palestinian National Authority and members for the Palestinian Legislative Council.
-In 2005, the second presidential elections were held.
-In 2006, the second legislative elections were held.
-From 2004 to 2005, the first local elections were held level after level.
-In 2009, the elections were scheduled to be held, but that did not happen due to the conflict between Fatah and Hamas taking place in Gaza. As a result, President Mahmoud Abbas decided to keep his position until the next elections.
-In 2012, the local elections were held in all the cities of the West Bank only.
What are the Palestinian Local Elections?
The Palestinian Local Elections are those elections held in Gaza and the West Bank where voters go to specific places to elect mayors chairing the various municipalities in both regions. These mayors are responsible for the operation of civil services and facilities for the Palestinian citizens.
Local elections in Palestine have had an unbalanced history since they began in 2005. They were to be held in four stages, but were never finalized. They were then rescheduled for 17 July 2010. When the time came, the Central Election Commission was unable to operate in Gaza Strip after the political separation. As a result, the Palestinian government announced on 25 April 2010 that the elections would be postponed in the Strip. On 10 June 2010, the government announced again that all local elections were cancelled completely.
Why are the local elections important for Palestinians?
Since 1948, Palestine and the Palestinians have not seen the light of freedom or a bright future. They have only lived the dim of catastrophe, war, and conflict – both in regard to the Israeli occupation, and internal political strife.
Since the formation of the Palestinian Authority, Palestinian hopes began to grow for the formation of their own state, wherein democratic elections would offer them a stable life with stable services after all of those crises. That dream did not last for long, as, since the beginning of this century, the Israeli occupation began to wage wars on Gaza, thus destroying Palestinian hopes, especially in Gaza.
Those wars and conflicts affected every aspect of Palestinians’ lives, and Palestine began to wake up again from this nightmare through hopes that the elections might be a change, a real change, now after the tragedies happened years ago.
According to the Palestinians and to the law, the elections are set to serve the people and build good services for them, especially for Gaza Strip that has been suffering from isolation for more than ten years
From the previous point, Palestinians believe that the upcoming elections are the only hope that they have in the near future that would either rebuild their life again or destroy its rubble.
“Elections are not a ring for showing off the muscles!” Palestinians say.
People in Gaza and in the West Bank hope from both political parties, Fatah and Hamas, will not to use these elections for their own benefits, or for showing off how many elected them or how many did not.
This step is considered a door of hope, for the hopeless Palestinians, which could wipe their bad memories – the memories of separation, wars and conflicts – and replace them with the beauty of life and the willing future.
When will our political parties realize that is ENOUGH?!!
Everyone knows that the main problem of what’s going on in Palestine, especially Gaza, is a result of the occupation that affected every side of life. However, Palestinians think that the division between the main political Parties, Fatah and Hamas, is beneficial for the Israeli occupation, in that the world would be convinced that the political separation is the main problem of the Palestinian case, and that once it’s solved, then the problems are solved. No, in fact, political division is just a branch of a very big tree that Palestinians are dreaming to glean.
Everyone in Palestine knows that Palestine will never ever stand without the reconciliation and the reunion of its children that have been chopped it into two parts. More than ten years have been wasted, lost and stomped on by the dirty shoes of the separation that made the Palestinian situation, some say, worse than 1948.
As Palestinians and Palestinian political parties, we have to realize that this is the time to soften the image of Palestine so it can be a beautiful bride colored with the four colors of the Palestinian flag circling around the Middle East, wearing the white dress of its wedding.
By Mohammad Arafat