THE CHOICE OF THE PEOPLE
Jordan Times editorial
Source: The Jordan Times, 28 November 2008, http://www.jordantimes.com. This article is distributed by the Common Ground News Service (CGNews) with permission to publish from The Jordan Times.
By conducting presidential and parliamentary elections, Palestinians may end the unproductive confrontation between Fatah and Hamas that diverts attention from crucial issues with which they are faced.
The Palestinians should decide how they would like to be governed and by whom, and on what basis they can sue for peace. President Mahmoud Abbas proposed elections recently, in a bid to end the tug of war between his government in the West Bank and the Hamas government in Gaza.
Despite repeated attempts by Egypt and other Arab and non-Arab intermediaries, the standoff between Abbas and the Hamas leadership continues. Hamas wants elections to be limited to presidential, so that it may keep control over Gaza and not undergo another test through national elections. That is untenable and ineffective. Democracy means the rule of the people, so the people should decide who represents them.
The Arab world should now take a firm position on the issue and decide how to proceed to end the Palestinian squabbling. The intervention should be more than rhetoric. The Arab capitals, especially those most concerned about the future of the Palestinian territories, must now make their position clear and compelling, since the Palestinians don‚t seem able to settle their differences on their own.
It is perhaps time for an extraordinary Arab summit. With Gaza on the brink of starvation and the Israeli blockade continuing unabated and unperturbed by the outcry of the international community, the entire spectrum of Palestinian leadership should put an end to the bickering and deal at least with the Gaza tragedy.
Arab heads of state should not allow Palestinian division to stand in the way of a resolution to the Palestinian conflict. Arab governments can and must endorse Abbas‚ proposal for simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections by the beginning of next year and make it binding on all sides.
The fate of the people should be of topmost interest to the Palestinian leaders, not their obstinate grip on power. If they don‚t know that, they should be made to understand.