Arab Thought Forum International Conference
Palestine at the Crossroads: Landmarks and Identity of the Palestinian Entity
The Arab Thought Forum
Birzeit University, June 21-23, 1999
The Palestinian State Amidst Historical Facts, Reality
and Future Prospects
The Palestinian people are at the threshold of establishing their independent state and ascertaining total sovereignty on their soil. This historical and critical moment, with its great challenges, and which will define the landmarks and identity of our state, requires that we show utmost courage and steadfastness. It also demands equal attention to a broader internal platform towards reinforcing our national unity and strengthening our internal front within a considerable amount of transparency, freedom of expression and respect for various opinions in order to achieve the best possible results at all levels.
A serious and objective discussion over the prospects and nature of the Palestinian state might need to focus on some facts of the conflict that gave the Palestinian cause its unique character among other causes in the region and throughout the world. They are features that still affect our current reality; they can also constitute a guide to conclude the proper analysis and possible predictions of the future.
The First Fact : It deals with the international and regional conditions with which the Palestinian cause emerged and developed since the beginning of the current century, in particular since the Balfour Declaration in 1917, when the joint interests of the effective world powers (the forces of international colonialism) and the Zionist movement met, thus resulting in a strong partnership between these forces and the movement.
The Palestinian people suffered systematic ethnic cleansing under that partnership, in order to implement the ominous declaration that stipulated the establishing of a national homeland for Jews in Palestine. This process was accompanied by programmed and well-supported policies that worked to encourage the immigration of Jews to Palestine, in addition to the operations of usurping, confiscating and judaizing Palestinian lands. The Zionist project in Palestine was given unlimited support in terms of training, arms and financial resources. The Zionist gangs committed a programmed series of massacres, which resulted in the eviction of the Palestinian people from their lands, thus creating the Palestinian problem in 1948 and the emergence of the Palestinian refugee problem.
In June 1967, Israel launched a war against three Arab countries; the war resulted in the total occupation of Palestine; Israel occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, in addition to other Arab lands in Egypt, Syria and Jordan.
The Palestinian people paid a high political and material price due to the catastrophes that befell them; the outcome was the eviction of two-thirds of the Palestinian people and their transformation into refugees without a national identity, distributed throughout the Arab countries surrounding Israel and several other countries. The remaining third remained steadfast in the homeland, resisting, struggling and suffering all forms of oppression under the despicable Israeli occupation. The Palestinians who remained in their homeland inside Israel faced also all kinds of oppression and discrimination. Israel, which was created on their land, and at the expense of their people s expulsion.
In addition to being deprived of a dignified life, the Palestinian people paid a high price in being deprived of exercising their right to self-determination like all other peoples. The Palestinian people could not benefit from UN Resolution 181 which stipulated the establishment of two states on the land of historical Palestine â€œ one Arab Palestinian state and the second Jewish. This same resolution gave Israel its legitimacy; it also gave the Palestinian people their legitimate and legal right to establishing their independent state.
The Second Fact: It deals with Israel s defiant conduct towards international law and resolutions of international legitimacy. Israel reached a point of defying any implementation of the agreements signed with Palestinians and freezing them on groundless excuses.
This intransigence, supported by the effective world powers and the Jewish lobby, granted the Jewish state influence and power that made it feel it was above accountability; it felt it could not be harmed or accounted for even if it violated international law and resolutions of international legitimacy; this status reinforced what is known as double standards in international politics.
Throughout half a century, Israel became the sole state among members of the international community with this unique status; alone, it went against the international current that resulted after the second world war.
The Palestinian cause, which remained on the agenda of the UN since its establishment, constituted the true criteria for the credibility of the international community concerning the main concepts agreed upon â€œ mainly the respect of international law, justice, human rights and the rights of people to self-determination and their right to live on their land in peace and security.
However, Israel continued to violate resolutions of international legitimacy. This was blatantly manifested in refugee cause. Israel insists on rejecting the implementation of UN Resolution 181 and 194. These two resolutions linked between accepting Israel as a member in the UN and the return of Palestinian refugees to their homeland. Moreover, Israel violated international law and resolutions of international legitimacy on the issue of Jerusalem, when it occupied the western side of Jerusalem in the war of 1948 thus disregarding UN Partition Resolution 181, which stipulates the internationalization of Jerusalem.
Israel further continued its defiance of international law through occupying the eastern side of Jerusalem by force in 1967, and declaring the annexation of this side on June 27, 1967, and later announcing it as the unified capital of Israel in 1981. In order to translate its decisions into facts on the ground, Israel continues its violations in the Holy City in a way which does not receive any international opposition in the true sense. It further moved to judaize the city and change its geographical, demographic and cultural features.
As for settlements and land confiscation, they constitute the third type of Israeli violations to international law, in particular to the Fourth Geneva Convention issued in 1949, which stipulates the inadmissibility of annexing or dominating over regions and, or taking any other measures of sovereignty that change the status quo of those regions that existed prior to occupation. Israel refused to abide by UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions which stressed the illegitimacy of settlements and demanded that Israel dismantle them.
In the area of Israeli violations of human rights, Israel adopted the policy of collective punishment through demolishing homes and confiscating ID cards of Jerusalemite Palestinians, in addition to the policy of imposing sieges and closures and the attempts to strangle the Palestinian economy. The most striking defiance of Israel to international law is its continued occupation of Palestinian and Arab lands since 1967.
The Third Fact: It is represented in the lack of Arab action and the continuation of the imbalance of powers in favor of Israel. The fragmentation of the Arab nation and the absence of any Arab confrontational plan allowed the continuation of Israel s overwhelming superiority in the region, thus allowing it to attempt to impose its will by force.
The Fourth Fact: It began taking shape in the late fifties, evolving in the mid-sixties, and was manifested in the launching of the Fateh movement and the establishment of the PLO, with the advocacy of armed struggle as a means of liberating Palestine. This struggle was escalated after the defeat of 1967 through launching its armed revolution and the establishment of the modern national movement. This revolution was born from the womb of the immense sufferings of the Palestinian people and from the feelings of oppression and frustration. It represented a legitimate means to regain respect for the Palestinian people which remained marginalized, towards achieving their national goals of liberation and return.
The PLO, which is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, was forced to struggle in order to maintain its unity and the unity of the Palestinian people. The difficult task, among other difficult tasks on subjective, regional and international levels, was to match its goals with resolutions of international legitimacy despite the hardships they incurred upon the Palestinian people.
Despite the many difficulties and complications, the PLO attained important achievements. However, the most important achievement, coinciding with the Palestinian Intifada that erupted in the occupied Palestinian lands in December 1987, was the return of the Palestinian people and their just cause to the heart of the geo-political map of the Middle East, and the recognition of the Palestinian state declared by the PLO in Algiers in 1988 by 100 countries. This overwhelming international recognition led the United States, ever biased to Israel, to deal with the PLO and initiate an official dialogue with it in 1989; it also forced Israel to eventually recognize the existence of the Palestinian people and the PLO as their sole legitimate representative. Israel signed the Declaration of Principles in Washington on September 13, 1993 with the PLO under broad US and international sponsorship.
Now, a meticulous reading of the above mentioned facts will lead us to an accurate diagnosis of the current reality and its ramifications; it will also lead us to a better definition of future prospects, in relation to the form and nature of the development of the first Palestinian entity on the ground.
The Palestinian Entity between the Complexities of
the Current Reality and Future Prospects
The Declaration of Principles came as an outcome of the existing balance of powers and as a response to specific subjective, regional and international conditions. It allowed the Palestinian people the first opportunity in their modern history to establish their national authority and entity on a part of historical Palestine.
The development and growth of the Palestinian entity depended mainly on the principle of phases, as stipulated in the Oslo Accord, which stated that the interim phase will last five years. This period ended on May 4, 1999, at which point Israel should have withdrawn, in phases, from 90% of West Bank and Gaza Strip lands. Prior to the end of the interim period, an agreement over the final-status issues: refugees, Jerusalem, settlements, borders, water and relations, should have been reached.
In exchange, and by the same process of gradualness, the Palestinians assumed jurisdiction on the liberated parts of their land, and developed their institutions, towards the establishment of a Palestinian state.
It should be noted that the idea of the interim agreement was not invented by the Palestinian negotiator, or even the Israeli negotiator; it was the formula that was reinforced in the Camp David Accords, and from the principles upon which the Madrid Conference was held, mainly the principle of land for peace and based on the UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.
In any case, and prior to halting the implementation of the interim agreements in the third year of the interim phase in 1996, the Palestinian people had the opportunity to establish their entity in two phases:
The First Phase: It began with the signing of the Cairo Agreement (Gaza-Jericho First) on May 4, 1994, and ended in signing the interim phase agreement in Washington on September 28, 1995.
At this stage, the Palestinian National Authority was established in the Gaza Strip and the city of Jericho only. It comprised of one commission of 24 members, as stipulated in the Cairo agreement. This authority enjoyed very limited executive and legislative authorities. It also received civil jurisdictions in six areas: education, health, social affairs, tourism, direct taxation and Value Added Tax on local Palestinian products.
Prior to the end of this phase, and according to a sub-agreement signed on August 27, 1995, additional jurisdictions were transferred to the Palestinian Authority: industry, agriculture, trade, labor, petroleum, gas, postal services and local government.
The Second Phase: It began with the signing of the interim agreement on September 28, 1995, and which should have ended with the start of implementation of the third phase of Israeli withdrawal in September 1996. In this phase, Israel withdrew from all Palestinian cities, except for Hebron, for which a special protocol was signed; Israel also withdrew its troops to outside the villages and camps in Zone B .
The major development of this phase, at the level of building the Palestinian entity, was the formulation of the Palestinian ruling institution, through Palestinian presidential and legislative elections that were conducted in a direct, free and democratic way, and under broad international monitoring on January 20, 1996. Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and occupied East Jerusalem elected President Yasser Arafat as the head of the National Authority; Palestinians also elected 88 members for the Palestinian Legislative Council, who represented 16 Palestinian constituencies in the designated regions.
Building the Palestinian National Authority Institutions:
Despite the stalemate in the peace process during the Netanyahu government, and despite the obstacles and subjective and objective difficulties that faced the Palestinian National Authority, the Authority continued to build its internal structure through building its legislative, executive and judicial institutions on the basis of separation between authorities, which is the basic pillar of democratic countries.
First: The Legislative Authority Institution (The Palestinian Legislative Council):
The legislative council assumed the responsibility of building the Palestinian democratic civil society, based on the principle of separation between authorities, the rule of law and the respect for human rights. In order to achieve this very complicated task within the reality we live in, the council had to assume its parliamentary tasks, which focused on creating an integrated body of Palestinian legislation to organize Palestinian life and to reinforce of the rule of law. This is in addition to the task of setting fixed mechanisms in the area of monitoring the performance of the executive authority; reinforcing the principles of transparency, accountability and democracy, within the context of creating and consolidating parliamentary traditions that ensure the widest popular participation; strengthening the status of the PLC as the first Palestinian elected parliament, whether among its voters or on the Arab and international arenas; and attracting the utmost support for the just cause of our people.
In the context of these principle duties, the PLC accomplished the following:
In the area of legislation , the council inherited a unique legal status, where the Palestinian society was run by the laws of others. The PLC assumed the task of unifying laws and legislations. As it enters its fourth term, The PLC has had more than 50 laws on its agenda, out of which 25 laws were ratified in their final reading; the president has approved 16 laws so far. As for the remaining laws, they are on the PLC agenda and its various committees in various stages of reading.
In the area of monitoring the performance of the executive authority, the PLC succeeded in reinforcing parliamentary mechanisms in effect in most democratic parliaments. The PLC exercised its role in granting a vote of confidence to the Cabinet twice in its three terms. The decision of the PLC was respected regarding carryout out the cabinet reshuffle in the light of the General Control Office report.
In the same context, the PLC ratified the PNA general budget of 1997 and 1998 twice, after making the necessary amendments. The PLC is about to ratify the budget of 1999.
The PLC adopted the principle of accountability through summoning ministers and officials and questioning them in the PLC or in its various committees. More than 160 inquiries were directed to ministers regarding governmental performance on specific issues. The PLC Committees held more than 180 hearing sessions. The PLC received more than 2000 complaints by citizens. It also formed 14 inquiry commissions to look into violations committed by PA institutions. The decisions of these commissions were followed up with responsibility and transparency. The PLC exerted tremendous efforts in the area of human rights and public freedoms to consolidate the principles of respect for human rights, freedom of expression and political pluralism; through its decisions to prohibit the principle of political arrests, the PLC demanded the release of all political detainees who were not convicted.
On the Political Role , the PLC carried out intensified efforts, whether through its entire body or through its specialized committees, on the issues of Jerusalem, protection of lands, confronting settlements, refugees, following the political situation and the negotiations.
The PLC has gained much international attention since the elections, which were supervised by more than 2,000 international observers, thus asserting its international status. This was reinforced through visits by many delegations to the council, including heads of states, governments, parliaments and foreign ministers. The council members also accepted many invitations by speakers of several parliaments.
The assessment of the PLC performance must take into consideration a set of facts: First, three years since the PLC was established is a very short period of time to establish a modern parliamentary institution; the PLC is working on building such a modern body amidst very complicated conditions that are not found in any other parliament. Second, the council was in action during the stalemate of the peace process, which prolonged the Israeli occupation and all its violations and oppressive measures, reflecting themselves on all aspects of Palestinian life and on the work of the PLC. Based on prioritization, the council was forced to deal with political issues and confronting occupation at the expense of its basic task in the area of legislation and monitoring.
The third fact deals with the difficulties in the relationship with the executive authority. The task of legislation and ratifying laws was not an easy task. Some laws remained a source of conflict between the legislative and executive authorities for long periods of time, mainly the Basic Law that was ratified by the council on October 2, 1997, and which represents a reference for all laws. The council also faced difficulties in making the executive authority respect, adopt and implement the decisions of the council. Despite all the above mentioned obstacles, the PLC succeeded in setting real parliamentary traditions for the Palestinian society; it also contributed in serious efforts to reinforce democracy and reaffirming the principle of separation of authorities and the rule of law.
Second: the Executive Authority Institution:
The executive authority concluded the building of a government apparatus from ministries, apparatuses, and specialized commissions to run the society.
A cabinet of ministers was established, consisting of 26 specialized ministries, in addition to establishing other government commissions, such as the General Personnel Department, the Monetary Authority, the Water Authority, the Energy Authority, the Civil Aviation Authority, the General Petroleum Commission, the Broadcasting Corporation, the General Control Office, the General Commission for Information, the Standards and Specifications Institute and the Central Bureau of Statistics. The executive authority also reconstructed the municipalities and local councils and concluded building its security apparatuses.
This government apparatus follows up all daily matters of the Palestinian people and offers services to them in all economic, social, health educational and cultural aspects, in addition to reinforcing the international status of the Palestinian entity. This is done through spending from the annual budget in the context of a law governing this annual budget which is approved by the PLC.
Third: The Judicial Authority Institution:
The PNA inherited a complex judicial and legal situation from the Israeli occupation, in which there are differences between the Jordanian law applied in the West Bank and the Egyptian law applied in Gaza Strip, in addition to the law of the British Mandate and several thousands of military orders that act as laws.
Although this reality has made the task of building the judicial authority and system very difficult, the executive authority is required to work towards concluding the building of the judicial apparatus and respecting its sovereignty and independence in light of laws and legislatures that the PLC began to ratify, mainly the law of judicial independence which was ratified by the PLC and submitted to the President to be approved according to law.
Difficulties and Obstacles:
It is hard to imagine the extent of problems and obstacles facing the PNA and the emerging Palestinian entity; this authority worked under very unique conditions. On the one hand, it inherited the consequences of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict which are still ongoing, with all its ramifications in terms of hatred, grudges and human, political and economic disasters. On the other hand, the PNA had to assume its authority in areas left completely destroyed by the occupation, in terms of infrastructure, economy and society. The PNA had to face complications resulting from the deterioration and stalemate in the peace process and the Israeli refusal to implement signed agreements. This condition negatively impacted on the development and construction of the Palestinian entity. In addition, the PNA faced subjective complexities and obstacles resulting from the new experience and difficulties of transforming from a national liberation movement (revolution) to a state of civil society and building of state institutions. The lack of internal resources multiplied the hardship, given that a part of Palestinian resources remained under Israeli control, especially in relation to fertile agricultural lands in the Jordan Valley and water and electricity resources.
The fragile Palestinian economy was also affected by the semi-total subordination to the Israeli economy due to thirty years of occupation. This economy depends on Israeli imports to meet approximately 90% of its total consumption needs; more than 70% of goods are exported to Israel and around 50% of its labor force.
The Israeli policy of long closures and economic sieges, under the pretext of security, also affected the Palestinian economy. Between the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1994 and the end of 19978 Israel closed the West Bank for 313 days. Israel also closed the Gaza Strip during the same period for more than one year. This oppressive and aggressive policy cost the Palestinian economy more than $3 billion, which is double the amount offered by the donor countries to the PNA. The closures led to a 50% decrease in internal and external investment and to a reduction in the local production capacity by more than 80%.
It is clear that the PNA was exerting tremendous efforts on two levels, with each level affecting the other. The first effort was directed towards confronting Israeli violations, especially the intensified settlement campaign launched by Netanyahu s government and the campaign to judaize Jerusalem, at the same time working towards achieving national independence and building the state. The second effort was devoted to establishing institutions of the civic society.
Phenomena of Transformation into a State of Institutions and the Society:
Despite this, we can realize the major phenomena of transformation into a state of institutions and the civil society.
The PNA took major and important steps in seeking to change from the state of being a revolution to a state of institutions and the establishment of a civil society. Five years after the establishment of the PNA, we can notice the major indicators of transformation on all levels, especially in the following fields:
First: Reinforcing the principle of separation between authorities, which is the basic principle in any civil democratic society. Despite the gaps that still exist in implementing this principles because of the unfinished experience, today the Palestinian people have their PLC which enjoys an independent personality and will. This is a great national achievement that was accomplished in a very short period and under very difficult conditions.
Second: To strengthen the principle of accountability and transparency, which appeared in the various monitoring fields, in three levels of monitoring. The first level is parliamentary monitoring, which is represented in monitoring of the performance of the executive authority by the legislative council. This kind of monitoring made good and effective progress. The second kind is judicial monitoring, which is represented in the jurisdictions of the judicial authority in canceling the decisions of the executive authority if such decisions violate the law or abuse the power of authority. Although we have begun to see some features emerging, this kind of monitoring has not assumed its true role in the Palestinian society for several reasons, mainly the weakness of the Palestinian judicial apparatus and its lack of judicial cadres. The third kind of monitoring is subjective monitoring, which is the executive authority s monitoring of itself through the General Control Office and the departments of monitoring and inspection in the various ministries and public institutions.
Third: The emergence of the distinguished role of the NGOs in Palestinian society. Palestinians have today more than 1,110 NGOs that are performing a great role in the area of reinforcing democracy, respect of human rights and rule of law, in addition to their role in offering human services to Palestinian citizens. These NGOs formed, through the fledgling Palestinian democratic experience, lobby groups in many cases in favor of democracy and consolidating parliamentary life.
Fourth: D evelopment in the area of freedom of speech and respect for human rights. Besides the imposed constraints on movement and freedom of speech that the PNA inherited from the Israeli occupation, the interim period imposed additional burdens, sometimes allowing the authority to commit individual violations and of human rights. The same applies to the freedom of speech and political pluralism. However, as time passed, the performance of the executive authority improved, where the legislative council started issuing decrees and legislatures with the same effect of a law, granting a better form of the rule of law and creating a better atmosphere for freedom of speech, political pluralism and the respect of human rights.
The Declaration of the State:
With all that was said, it is clear that the Palestinian state has started to deeply root itself in the Palestinian land and that the conditions of establishing it are available through its pillars which are defined by international law, manifested in the land, the people and the authority. The Palestinian state will be established on part of the land of historical Palestine. There is no single doubt regarding the existence of the Palestinian people for thousands of years within their historical, cultural and national character. The Palestinian people now have their own authority with all its legislative, executive and judicial dimensions.
As for the legal grounds of this state, it is drawn from the original and permanent right of the Palestinian people to self determination, like all peoples on earth, and based on resolutions of international legitimacy, mainly UN General Assembly Resolution 181 and Resolution 194, and based on the Declaration of Independence in 1988.
These are not the only components despite their crucial importance which make the declaration of the state a necessity soon to be achieved. The political, subjective, regional and international environment has become mature enough to accept and support this declaration.
On the Palestinian level , The issue of declaring the state is posed on all political, official and unofficial levels. The discussion held in the meeting of the Palestinian Central Council on April 27, 1999, was the conclusion of the national internal deliberations. The council decided to keep its sessions open and form various committees to realize the state, mainly the committee to prepare the constitution. Prior to this, the legislative council held a special session on April 26, 1999, for the same purpose, where the council stressed on the end of the interim period and emphasized on moving ahead to establish the independent state with al-Quds as its capital, and to begin taking all the necessary steps and measures. Thus, the issue of declaring the state, which received a comprehensive national consensus is only a matter of time.
On the Arab level, The Arab positions have developed since the Rabat Summit in 1974, in which the Arab countries recognized the PLO as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, towards supporting the establishment of the Palestinian state. This is what we sensed from the assurances of the Arab countries in their support of the Palestinian decision pertaining to the declaration of the state, while leaving the timing of its declaration to the Palestinian people.
On the US level , The issue of the declaration of the state received wide and unprecedented interest. Here, we must note the positive development which began from the start of the US-Palestinian dialogue in 1989, passing through its sponsorship of the Madrid Conference and the Declaration of Principles and then in its role as the active and direct partner in the Wye River negotiations. We can also notice the development of the Palestinian-US relationship through the working groups and ministerial and parliamentarian joint committees. However, the visit of US President Bill Clinton to Gaza and Bethlehem was considered a turning point in this relationship, since the visit carries indications of sovereignty for the Palestinian people. This is in addition to Clinton s speech in Gaza before the Palestine National Council in December 1998, where he stressed on the political rights of the Palestinian people. This is considered a recognition close to recognizing the Palestinian people s right to self determination. This was reinforced by the letter sent by President Clinton to President Arafat in April 1999.
Despite this positive transformation, we must point to the instability of Palestinian-US relations, especially when the ban on the PLO still exists, even if it is lifted and renewed every six months. The PLO office in Washington does not enjoy diplomatic status, like the status of Palestine s embassies and commissions in EU countries and the rest of the world.
On the European level , It registered a major development since the Venice Declaration in 1981, which stressed on the unconditional right of the Palestinian people to self determination. The features of this decision were outlined in the EU statement and in their support of a solution based on negotiations on the basis and principles of the Madrid Conference and the Oslo Accords, mainly the principle of land for peace and UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.
The European position became clear through the positive statement issued by the most recent EU meeting in Berlin; they announced very clearly their support of the establishment of a Palestinian state in the near future. The draft resolution, prepared by the 15 EU foreign ministers, stated: The EU supports the right of the Palestinian people, with no statute of limitations, to self-determination, including the option of establishing a state, and it looks forward to this achievement soon . This is a natural conclusion for a legitimate right approved by the UN through Resolution 181, by which Israel entered the UN as part of the resolution components and which was reaffirmed through later consecutive resolutions.
The EU position was reiterated in the statement by the German representative, as the president of the EU, pertaining to Jerusalem. It rejects the Israeli measures and does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over East or West Jerusalem, along with the emphasis that this issue cannot be solved except through UN General Assembly Resolution 181, which stipulates the internationalization of Jerusalem and the establishment of two states.
In the context of the development of the international position regarding the declaration of the Palestinian state, we must refer to the position of Japan, which supports the establishment of a Palestinian state without any reservations, and the position of Canada, which stresses the inevitability of the establishment of the Palestinian state. In addition there is the traditional support of the non-aligned and Islamic countries, China, and Russia of the Palestinian state.
We must also point to the mature positions of some Israeli forces and the Israeli public opinion on the issue of declaring the state, such as Meretz, the Labor Party and the Peace Now movement. This position is clearly revealed in Israeli public opinion polls and in the positions of several intellectual and political figures in Israel. The results of the Israeli elections conducted on May 17, 1999, showed a clear trend in the Israeli public towards moving ahead in the peace process, and the retreat of forces that support the idea of Greater Israel and settlement activities.
A comprehensive look at regional and international positions shows that the issue of the Palestinian state has become a pivotal point that raises the interest of decision makers; it shows that the issue of its declaration is a matter of time and that it is a non-negotiable Palestinian decision.
The position of the UN, with a history connected with the history of the Palestinian cause, is an indicator of the mature position of the international community regarding the emphasis on the Palestinian national identity and entity. This can be trace from the UN decision to receive President Arafat who delivered a speech in front of the UN General Assembly in 1974, until the full support of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, mainly the right of return and self-determination and the establishment of the independent state. This development was first linked to the acceptance of the PLO as an observer, a status that was recently upgraded to the status of a semi-state.
The declaration of the state, and its establishment on the land of Palestine is no longer a promise or a far-fetched goal. Today, the Palestinian people have all the components of a state on the land, as in any other state â€œ these are the land, people, authority, legal grounds and international legitimacy. Any neutral and objective observer will no doubt affirm, that the next few months will be very critical for the cause, and that the general trend is moving swiftly towards the independent Palestinian state with al-Quds as its capital.
Regarding the nature and features of the state, it will be a democratic and pluralist country, which respects the rule of law, human rights and freedom of expression, and enjoys a free economy and an open market. This conclusion cannot be considered as mere wishful thinking or predictions. The Palestinian people, who suffered years of oppression and dispersion by the Israeli occupation, are very sensitive in terms of harming public freedoms, democracy and human rights. The experience of the PNA can be characterized, relatively speaking, and regardless of the flaws due to subjective and objective complexities, as moving towards consolidating the democratic system based on the principle of separation between authorities, political pluralism and the respect for the rule of law.
Despite the approval of the Palestinian people and their national authority to adopt the principle of a democratic system, the path to complete this experience requires unity and cooperation among all political and effective forces and civil society institutions; they all should assume their responsibilities in the same way that the national authority is assuming its responsibilities in these historical moments which will mark the characteristics of the future and the characteristic and nature of our independent Palestinian state with al-Quds al-Shareef as its capital.
Source: Shu‘un Tanmawyyeh Issue 22