In continuation to the Initiative on Dialogue, Consensus Building and Civic Awareness in the OPT, The Carter Center (TCC) and the Arab Thought Forum (ATF) continue the work towards the project objective: Design and agree on possible mechanisms for facilitating community reconciliation, following the political reconciliation agreement. The work will be based on practical approach through discussion the matter with wide representation of relevant figures including mainly experienced tribal leaders and personalities. In particular, the importance of community leaders in solving various types of familial and other conflicts and how those leaders can be involved in contributing to solve the existing political conflict and partake community reconciliation.
The Steering Committee convene in May 10, the current structure of the SC composed of: Fatah, Change and Reform, the Popular Front, the People‘s Party, the Democratic Front, the Third Way, Arab Liberation Front, Palestinian Popular Struggle Front, Democratic Union FEDA, Palestinian Arab Front, Al Saeqa organization, Arab Liberation Front, the Central Election Commission, the NGO Network and the National Committee for Monitoring the Palestinian Elections.
Between February and May, 2011, a series of Focus group meetings with Tribal and Reconciliation Leaders including; Ramallah, on April 4, 2011 with 18 participants, Jenin, Tubas and its neighborhoods in the Jordan Valley on April 14, 2011 with 24 participants, Nablus, Salfit and Tulkarm on April 26, 2011 with 24 participants, Hebron in May 9 with 45 participants and two meetings in Gaza on May 3 and 4 with 40 Participants. The meetings were very successful in terms of the number of attendees, their diversity and the nature of the discussions. The participants represented all forms of reconciliation committees of both elderly and young leaders (governmental representatives from the Ministry of Interior, PLO, Hamas, Fatah, refugees, governor’s office, Christian representative and traditional tribal leaders, their towns and refugee camps and from East Jerusalem.
The main focus of the discussion and comments include:
• The role of tribal leaders was very effective at the tribal and political levels during the first Intifada in 1980s. Tribal leaders and reconciliation committees are scattered without any reference.
• The authorities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip hinders the work of tribal leaders, as the government does not recognize the role the leaders play except the by the new governmental appointed tribal leaders
• The division between the West Bank and Gaza Strip negatively impacted the role of tribal leaders and their work.
• Government and political factions tries to marginalize tribal leaders and reconciliation committees and prefer to solve their problems at their factional level, but usually they fail and the rights of the victims lost.
• Although reconciliation committees are not an alternative to the judicial system, still they complete its work by preventing escalations in family fights. Accordingly, law enforcement would not solve the problem because there are so many details in this conflict which needs to be solved through credible and independent committee of tribal leaders.
• Civil Society organizations can take the initiative of educating the people and raising their awareness on the impacts of the split and the privileges of reconciliation.
• There are two options for community reconciliation: first, to declare general pardon by both sides, compensate the victims and open a new page without penalties. Second, to declare general pardon and compensate the victims without prejudice to the right of victims’ families to request the enforcement of law through the judicial system. The first option gained higher support.
1) Committees should be formed in all districts of the West Bank and Gaza to register the damages resulted from the division and tribal leaders should be represented in these committees. The various reconciliation committees should be united in one committee for each district in and should play an effective role supported by the political systems.
2) There should be an elected representative body (Tribal Council) for tribal leaders in the West Bank and Gaza that would select an independent sub-committee to facilitate reconciliation at the highest levels. Following political reconciliation, a tribal committee, one in the West Bank and the other in Gaza Strip, should be authorized by the government as well as political factions, in writing, to start reconciliation steps and agree on the outcomes and decisions.
3) A video conference should be held between tribal leaders in the WB and GS to discuss the role to be played and to get support from the authorities.
4) A fund should be created to collect money from Palestine, Arab and international donors to for compensating the victims.
5) The authorities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip should financially as well as logistically support the efforts of tribal leaders in regard to reconciliation. An appropriate budget should be considered to cover all expenses and compensations.
6) There should be an awareness campaign raise the public awareness on the role of tribal leaders and the importance of community reconciliation. This should be done through holding workshops and training courses in the various parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
7) There should be headquarters to reconciliation committees with an identified reference and they should be supported by the police.
8) The name should be changed from tribal reconciliation into social reconciliation, training is very important for reconciliation committees.