Research Paper Discussion: Palestinian Parties’ Political Transformations’ Impact on Reconciliation and Democracy

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As part of its tireless efforts to raise youth’s awareness about democracy and pressing political issues in the Palestinian arena, PalThink for Strategic Studies held a session on Wednesday to discuss a research paper prepared by a member of the Democracy and Youth Dialogue Forum, within activities of the “PalThink Academy for Democracy and Human Rights” project, supported by Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa)’s Zivik Funding Programme.

The session was opened by lawyer at PalThink Bilal Al-Najjar, who welcomed the attendees, and said that this session is part of a series of meetings organized by PalThink to discuss research papers prepared by the members of the forum to raise youth awareness and involve them in knowledge production regarding current issues.

Al-Najjar talked about PalThink’s activities that aim at providing young people with much-needed skills in light of the shortcomings of the university curricula. He added that the paper before us is of great importance because it examines the issue of reconciliation and the concept of democracy.

For his part, the author of the paper, Osama Naim, said that his paper discusses the democratic transformations in Palestinian society since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, the electoral competition between political forces and its direct effects on the occurrence of the Palestinian division, and partisan efforts to achieve reconciliation from 2007 to 2022.

There is no democracy without the presence of strong and effective political parties, as the presence of political parties expresses the process of integration into a complete constitutional system, he pointed out.

The Palestinians are still living a chaotic political reality after Hamas won the elections in 2006, especially after the systematic and ideological clash with Fatah movement, which raises a serious question about the future of Palestinian politics in light of the absence of national unity, Naim said.

He said that the continued obstruction of Palestinian reconciliation efforts will change many of the concepts rooted within the Palestinian people, and the definition of the Palestinian issue is constantly changing, which is a dangerous indication of a poor political future that does not live up to the national aspirations before 2007.

The paper recommended continuous popular pressure on political parties to hold the elections and the formation of a true youth and feminist alliance that includes young people from all political parties to be a nucleus of national unity away from partisan interests.

In turn, the attendees discussed several issues, including the reasons that prevented the elections from taking place, the obstacles that the occupation places on the completion of reconciliation, the importance of respecting the results of the elections whenever they are held, and the importance of the recent reconciliation agreement in Algeria.

The attendees also talked about the danger of the geographical division between the two parts of the country, the lack of a unified narrative for the Palestinians, and the state of popular loss of hope for reconciliation.

The attendees pointed to the repression practiced by the two sides of the division, and the need to create a balance between partisanship and patriotism, as partisan pluralism is one of the most important pillars of democracy, but at the same time, partisan interests should not prevail over national interests.