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Organizing Popular Action


The Uprising has completed its seventh month and it is moving forward in its unique quality as a public and popular movement. During the past period, the Uprising has been described by two qualities:

First, the large scale activities of the public have proceeded side by side with the uprising activities. Many Palestinian cities have witnessed a large number of meetings in which different political, official, public and governmental activists took part in.

Second, it proved the failure of Barak s attempts to turn the uprising into a burden on the Palestinians and using its as a starting point to break the will of the Palestinian people. This situation was accompanied by an escalation of the Israeli violence to include assassinations, siege, starvation, demolition and killing.

The suffering has been shown as an important sign and headline. The citizen together with large sectors of the people like labour, employers and even official and civil institutions started to suffer from the suppressive Israeli blows on one side and from lack of funds to run their affairs on the other side. This new reality has lead to a kind of a qualitative challenge and the following formula: for the Uprising to last and for objectives to be achieved, it is important to withstand hardship and sacrifice. Without this moral and concrete. Driving force, the Uprising would be at stake. The Uprising in this popular framework is a struggle between a will, patience and challenge. The one who has a stronger will to withstand and steadfast will surly be the winner.

The popular actions as a catalyst to the Uprising constitute a cornerstone in increasing the chances and possibilities for Palestinians to obtain their rights. This is clear through carrying out public and popular activities to fight this suffering by drawing up programs of social solidarity and economic integration. i.e. the individuals, groups and sectors in the Palestinian society who are mostly harmed in these conditions have to be located and classified, then it is important to find appropriate solutions to meet and fulfill their needs without the available means in order to achieve a level of solidarity to pave the way for a better distribution of burden on the whole people.

* Summary of a debate session organized by the Arab Thought Forum on April 14,2001, Participants were:

Sakhr Habash, Archimandrite Attalah Hanna, Abed Al-Fattah Hamayl, Islah Jad.

2. Popular Action: An attempt to build borders:

Popular Action has special significance since it is closely connected with the continuity, escalation and development of the Uprising. It is possible to give a definition of Popular Organization starting from September28,2000 when Sharon raided on the Aqsa Mosque, and this incident in itself was the stroke that broke the camel s back. The massacre that followed the raid and breaking in on the same day on the Aqsa Mosque has revealed the truth of the matter in what really happened in Camp David Summit. It is an attempt to destroy Jerusalem, Aqsa Mosque and refugees. It has also divulged the secret agreements with Barak. The context of the last Uprising is an Israeli attempt to reduce the level of Palestinian expectations as regards to independence and the right to return, then Al-Aqsa uprising broke out and became the Independence Uprising. The Uprising is a natural reaction not only against Sharon s Raid but also against the nature of the political sequence of events on part of the public including its different sectors, factions and forces.

At the same time, the National and Islamic forces have appeared as a symbol for popular action. The focal question was: how can each of the following popular, official and civil forces have a real role in making and forming an organized body How can these heterogeneous forces in color, background, natures, roles and affiliations carry out direct, fundamental and supportive Uprising activities

The continuity of the Uprising, its conclusion of its first days weeks, its withstand of the Israeli suppression, its high level of bloodshed during the outbreak of the Uprising and the big casualties in the Palestinian side have made everybody realize that the Uprising is moving forward and it has came to represent a lasting entity. As a result, it became imperative on the different popular forces to discuss three critical and decisive issues:-

* The Political track of the Uprising- Development of the goals and the political programs to be followed and achieved.

* The organizational Track of the Uprising. How to involve different bodies in playing, developing and escalating their roles in the Uprising.

* The fighting activities Track. It is to agree on the activities, forms, means, tools and fighting ways and techniques that need to be common.

The causes for these suggestions, debates and dialogues which came first as priorities and because of the different conditions of this Uprising from those of the first Uprising in 1987 justify the need to open discussion on the formula of action that need to be formed in order to protect, develop and escalate this Uprising.

While trying to enlarge and expand the common base in dealings and participation in decision making, special attention and care was given to unions, city councils, industrial and commercial chambers, non-governmental organizations and civil society institutions since these different bodies and entities have wide popular bases, special target groups and cover all areas, groups, sectors and interests. It was agreed that it is very essential to have an effective involvement of these bodies in decision making, implementation of activities and drawing policies within the framework of the National and Islamic forces.

All the people stood firmly against the policy of Breaking bones through machineguns which Barak implemented and developed from the Israeli suppressive Theory which Rabin started implementing in order to turn the Uprising into a burden on the Palestinian leadership. Now it is Sharon s turn to redouble this dose of genocide, suppression and war crimes. These suppressive measures and the Israeli persistence to impose surrender on the Palestinian people have lead the Palestinians to gather their forces and unit in one ditch in order to escalate and develop the Uprising on one side and to increase the efforts and potentials of some ministries on the other side. The result was an appalling failure in breaking in the will of the Palestinian people.

  • Suffering and Popular action

Palestinians are in great need for funds and support. The percentage of unemployment has risen sharply and continuously. The percentage of those living under the poverty line has also increased. The Uprising and the unprecedented Israeli measures against the Palestinian people have put the Palestinian Authority under a huge burden. What made things worse is that only a limited number of financial aids to help the Palestinian people managed to reach. In addition, these funds have to pass through a very complicated process of bureaucracy that is followed in the Islamic Development Bank.

The case should and ought to have Palestinians move form a situation in which they receive consecutive blows and make sacrifices into a situation where they give bloody reactions on the Israeli aggression and suppression in the form of legitimate operations of self-defense. Such a strategy and tactic should have increased the momentum of the popular action to support, develop and continue the Uprising. This comes at a time when Palestinians have to pay a very expensive bill instead of raising a white flag; as a result, thousands were wounded, hundreds were martyred and hundreds were imprisoned.

It does not require a great deal of thinking to realize that the continuation of such a situation will not last as long as a special group of people bear the burden of the Uprising especially in light of the scarce Arab support and little foreign donations. As for the Palestinian Authority, it is not in a better condition than that of the people: most of its income comes from taxes which Israel keeps in its banks. As for donor states and the support which was declared in summits and formal Arab and Islamic conferences, it was stopped under the pretext that it is used to the continuation of violence and support of Terrorism . The Uprising itself is terrorism and the funds that had arrived are nothing but loans.

The popular action is required to guard more than one post. It should fight and stand on more than one front. During all of this, it should also reinforce the role of the Palestinian individual at the base and distribute the burdens of the Uprising on all in order not to over burden one sector, group or party.

4. Social solidarity and Economic Integration: Social solidarity is considered the twin brother of popular action. If the latter is one face of the coin then the social and family solidarity and economic integration are the coin s other face. The leaders of popular and political action have put their hand on the password to obtain a portion of the money to support the most hurt and the handicapped and to carry out a survey to count them and locate them. A long run has been covered in translating the concept of social solidarity . Palestinians perhaps will only find Palestinians to stand by their side.

Some of the attempts and initiatives in this regard are:-

  • A worksheet was submitted by the National and Islamic Forces. A decree has been formulated and it is waiting for ratification by President Yasser Arafat. The decree concerns forming a special fund to receive local Arab donations in order to cover the needs of the people. The decree was made on condition the money in the fund be spent fairly on needy, targeted and inflicted sectors. There is also a fainancial committee that has taken upon itself the responsibility to follow up this matter. This intended fund which is called Family Solidarity Fund is based on popular support in principle in order not to subject its decision to other outside parties. The fund aims at opening different spheres of popular participation and forming a committee to check and judge cases of corruption, bribery and embezzlement. It aims also at taking those who break the law to court in a manner that is characterized by transparency, accountability and judgement.
  • A promising experiment that is suitable for generalization was carried out in Nablus. In six hours, the governor, mayor, Red Crescent and some institutions have raised one million dollars. This sum of money served as the starting point for the fund allocated for social solidarity and economic integration. This experiment can be carried out in all parts of the Palestinian Authority Territories.
  • The Islamic Committee of Alms and Charity had increased its activities in the Uprising.
  • A fund for social solidarity was established following one of the national popular forces meeting held in Baghdad. Its central office is located in Baghdad and its general secretarial offices in Amman. Money will be given directly from the fund to the individual or party in Palestine after being identified by Palestinian Committees.
  • The last conference which was held in Iran recommended that a social solidarity fund should be established.
  • The National and Islamic forces and the rest of other bodies have called upon the Ministries of the Authorities working in this field and have a direct close contact with different afflicted sectors, groups and segments to play their role effectively and efficiently. In particular they direct their appeals to the Ministries of Social Affairs, Health and Labour. It is the right of those who give their blood, flesh and soul to free their homeland to receive a real support. It is not a form of charity, favour or aid since it only aims at preserving the dignity and right of every citizen participating in the Uprising and bearing its burdens.

Thus there are realistic and rational attempts but they require more effort and work on part of different popular bodies.

  • Legislative Council and Popular Action

The reality of the Legislative Council explicitly represents the extent of obstacles, hurdles, suppression and terrorism practiced by the Israelis against the Palestinian people. This council is one of the mostly harmed and influenced in its actions and performance. As for the reason behind this is that the main prerequisite for the Council to perform its daily functions is the need convene and meet. That is to allow all its members from the West Bank and Gaza to meet. Palestinian cities have become remote and isolated cantons. A very tight closure and siege have been imposed on these territories.

The performance of the Legislative Council of its mission and tasks relies on the work of its committees which are considered the generator and activator of the work of the Council. The condition of the committees is not different from the condition of the Council itself since it is very difficult for these committees to meet. Consequently, the Legislative Council and its committees are in a state of paralysis as a result of the Israeli Occupation.

Inspite of the bad condition, there are many laws of which some are relating to the Uprising are at the table for discussion in the Council. They are waiting to pass through the different readings. These draft laws are: Labour Law, Unemployment Fund Law, Social Insurance Law and Illegal Income Law. If these draft laws are passed, then they will contribute to a great extent in improving the situation and moving it one step ahead.

However, passing this package of laws and implementing them in case they were approved and signed by the President and published in the official newspaper requires a lot of funds. As for the siege imposed on the Palestinians and the increasing needs of the Palestinian people, the potentials of this people, regardless of their size, fall short of meeting the people s needs. There will always be a shortage and delay in tackling obstacles especially due to the fact that all sectors were influenced and sustained losses due to the Uprising. The harmed cases are not individual cases or sectors but they include all sectors and all the Palestinian people with its different groups. It is important to mention that labourers were the most effected and losses varied between one sector to another.

  • Carry out more discussion and research in the popular action in order to determine more precisely and comprehensively its borderlines and characteristics. It is also important to hold comparisons and show preferences for the phenomenon of Social Solidarity in different periods. Turning points in the 1987 Large Uprising and the present uprising are to be outlined, compared and contrasted for future study and benefits.
  • It is vital to represent popular bodies distributed among factions and parties in a real representation of the public and its members. The problems and demands of different segments, groups and sectors of the society have to be adopted. There should always be a continuous struggle to fulfill these demands and to be committed to these obligations and needs.
  • Holding more popular conferences has to continue since they represent an important mechanism since it is an indirect collective force of popular and public sides. This step is very important after the consecutive blows that the Palestinian Legislative Council elected members had received. As a result, its important role as a council has been greatly damaged due to the occupation policies, neglect of the executive authority of its role and over passing of its role.
  • Mechanisms to activate popular action and overcome its obstacles have to be put forward. The mechanisms should help to overcome the factions, and bodies in order to match the size of sacrifices put forward. Large-scale campaigns have to be launched to pass and approve the above mentioned draft bills and there should be no delay in establishing the Family Solidarity Fund.
  • There is an urgent need to identify the most hit individuals, groups, segments and sectors as a result of the Uprising, and provide it with the needed help and aids in order not to let burdens limited to one sector only.
  • Instant initiatives of support to the bodies of local governments especially small and newly established municipalities and village councils.
  • A need for a just distribution of aids and a guarantee of transparency, investigation and spread of vital data to the public.
  • Revival of the principles of economic integration and social solidarity, and putting forward the mechanisms, means, tools and approaches to reactivate these principles.
  • Membership in National and Islamic forces has to be open to all bodies, roles have to be organized and small sectorial circles have to be formed to meet the needs of the society.
  • There is a need to re-address the relationship between the popular and official dimensions to find out whether it is a complementary relationship or not.
  • Put an end to the controversy in the hanging issues between different parties especially in the Ministry of Justice and the absence of an emergency plan from the ministry.
  • Encourage the President to issue a package of laws in light of this present exceptional situation.
  • An attempt to put popular actions into a legal frame and to legalize the popular movements and protect it by law.
  • Activate the role of counseling and guidance in schools and universities on the current situation, and the right action during bombardment and the allocation of special periods to discuss political developments.
  • Give a lot of attention to the subject of settlements. Put forward different popular and official mechanisms to prevent drop puts.

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