OPINION - Democracy is need of hour for Palestinian struggle
Let elections be entry point and means to achieve end that is beyond voting processes
The writer is head of the Hamas Political Bureau.
GAZA CITY, Palestine
We are currently participating in the Cairo dialogue with our brothers in the Fatah movement and the rest of the Palestinian factions and national figures.
Our delegation is strengthened with a decision and a resolve that knows no hesitation to achieve a comprehensive agreement. I, from my position in the chairmanship of Hamas and through direct conversation with all of our people, wanted to detail the position and vision that we are pressing ahead within this promising road towards unity, partnership, and liberation.
The Hamas movement has set the main goal for its ongoing struggle against the Zionist occupation that includes; to free our people from the shackles of the occupation and realizing their rights to liberate all of the Palestinian lands and to achieve self-determination to live in freedom and dignity.
The goal includes that in their future state, with Jerusalem as its capital after returning to their lands from where they were displaced, Palestinians will build their political system on the foundations of justice and democracy.
Since elections are one of the forms of allowing people to exercise their right to choose their representatives in various bodies, institutions, and leadership positions, their conduct and democratic practices are one of the principles of the political work of Hamas, whether within its structure or in the overall Palestinian political situation.
Our people were following the first stage of Hamas' internal elections in Gaza closely, and how the movement demonstrated its commitment to periodic elections, fair competition, and respect for the will of its members to choose consultative and executive institutions. The same was done in the prisons, and it will continue as planned in the West Bank and abroad.
Hamas believes in strengthening national unity and turning the page of division as an essential entry point for maximizing Palestinian self-power and an essential step for mobilizing the forces of the Arab and Islamic nations to defeat the schemes of the Zionist expansion in the region, especially in these times when regional and international powers rush to legitimize the occupation of our land. They are out to create a hegemonic state in the region by signing normalization agreements that ignore our basic rights and reshape the definition of friends and enemies in the region by contradicting the history and geographical facts.
These elections open the door for choosing a new legitimate Palestinian leadership capable of engaging in a political process to solve the conflict that guarantees Palestinian rights and promotes security and stability in the region and across the globe.
For Hamas, the participation of our people in the elections, both those living inside the Palestinian territory and outside as diaspora, brings back hope to achieve the dream of freedom, independence, and return.
Hamas has actively taken part in the unions and student electoral processes, believing in the centrality of the idea of change and achieving position through the ballot box. We took positive positions in the various elections called for by the Palestinian Authority and participated in the municipal elections in 2005, in which we succeeded with great results. We won the majority of seats in the legislative council elections in 2006 that were certified by regional and international institutions as fair and transparent.
With the start of talks with Fatah about holding elections in late 2019, Hamas made many concessions to pave the way for holding elections. Many Palestinian factions and organizations highly welcomed these positions.
Although the factions presented an initiative known as the Eight Factions Initiative in September 2019, which Hamas approved, the process did not start for reasons I am not mentioning here. There was an urgent need to unify the Palestinian position, as the US pressure to terminate the Palestinian issue through the ominous Deal of the Century was at its fiercest.
Nevertheless, Hamas's position on the elections has remained positive. The movement has advanced with broad steps and has shown high flexibility, opening wide horizons for the launch of the electoral processes and the issuance of presidential election decrees.
Roadmap for completing the electoral process
With the start of the election process, Hamas insisted that it should be preceded by a serious and responsible national dialogue that lays out a roadmap for completing the electoral process in its three stages (the legislative council, the presidency, and the national council).
Dialogue should be launched to overcome the obstacles that may hinder this national path and for everyone to assume their historical responsibilities by the necessity of achieving national elections that empower the Palestinian people to exercise their inherent right to choose their representatives for various representative and leadership bodies, and not allowing in any way the confiscation of their will, and to gloss over their choices.
Hamas has implemented honestly and responsibly the outcome of the first round of dialogue. We also express our satisfaction with the positive spirit of our brothers in the leadership of the Fatah movement. Hamas is fully prepared to complete the process of dialogue and implement what is agreed upon nationally to complete the festival of democracy for the benefit of the Palestinian people.
Hamas wants these elections as a beginning to put the Palestinian house in order and rebuild a political system that responds to the challenges in a way that no subsequent political dispute is allowed to develop or grow.
Rather, our political system should be able to effectively absorb the differences and disagreements that may arise and deal with the changes that affect the political situation at the level of behavior and institutions.
To achieve the set of national goals of these elections, Hamas has determined its preferred option to participate in the legislative elections, which is to enter into a unified national list that includes the widest national political spectrum based on preserving the national rights confirmed by the National Accord Document and the outcomes of general secretaries' meeting of the Palestinian factions.
Then, a unity government can be formed based on the Palestinian law in which all should take part, even those forces who did not participate in the legislative council elections, so this government can manage the rest of the electoral process, supervise the removal of all residues of division, and adopt a path for real internal reconciliation that includes all.
It is not possible to talk about arranging and solidifying the Palestinian situation without including all components of our people, whether refugees or diaspora. The arrangement that is limited to our people inside Palestine only cannot be accepted.
The Palestinian diaspora is an integral part who paid the price of their displacement from their land for decades. They are at the heart of the sacred right of return, and they constitute one of the most critical aspects of the conflict with the occupation.
New national council
Accordingly, Hamas believes that the elections should culminate in the formation of a new national council, as a starting point to rebuild the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on democratic foundations and to renew its institutions based on partnership, to include all factions of our people as the representative of all the Palestinians. Further, it should manage the political conflict with the occupation power, take the Palestinian cause to all forums, and act according to the comprehensive national framework.
Upon completing the process of building the political system at the level of the Palestinian Authority and the PLO through the elections, we need to include all factions, elected institutions, and community bodies to the most important stage, which constitutes one of the goals of the various electoral processes that is the formulation of a comprehensive, unified and integrated struggle strategy to achieve the goals of our people which is liberation and return to homes.
This strategy should be based on the principle of resistance in its various forms and by using all the tools of struggle available to our people, including the military resistance, with a focus on popular resistance at this stage.
In this strategy, responsibilities need to be redistributed, considering the capabilities of each party and institution and its specialization and capacity in the various areas, to form a crucible that fuses all the energies of our people, whose true ability we trust to achieve the goals and aspirations of our Palestinian people.
Based on all this, Hamas believes that the general elections in its various stages are a serious national path and a room to arrange the Palestinian situation in a truly participatory manner in which the will of the people is supreme and which regulates our work in all stages to complete this path, and provide all the necessary steps and positions. We will reject every step that disrupts or obstructs this path.
There is a debate among the political elites about the effectiveness of the elections. Is it a means to end the division to achieve unity or is it a source of division itself?
Every opinion has its merits, but in the situation, we are living in, we do not necessarily take the conventional position, especially since we have tried since the beginning of the division all the options and methods. So, let the elections be an entry point and a means, and certainly to achieve an end that is beyond the elections themselves.
Our task today is not limited to how this path is evolving, but rather how this path succeeds, and we are proceeding with sincerity and commitment to implement all that has been agreed upon. We have now crossed the river and will never turn back.
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