Khuloud Khayyat Dajani
Ali Abu Shahla
The National Unity Government and the Current Situation
Ziad AbuZayyad opened the discussion by posing the following questions: Why has the national unity government not been able to accomplish the job for which it was formed? What is the role of the other national factions in light of the pervading chaos? What role can the forces and factions play to put an end to what is going on the ground? What is the task of civil society organizations in managing our plight? Where are we headed? Is there an alternative to the national unity government if it were to fail? And if not, what can be done to enable this government to accomplish its job and to begin implementing its program?
Jibril Rajoub concurred that the national unity government came as a result of the failure of the uni-polar government to deliver on its commitments to tackle the national uncertainties and challenges. He conceded that they have [the Fateh government] failed to offer the people independence, to achieve a national identity or to impose the Palestinians as partners in Oslo. He added that they have lost in these elections to Hamas because Fateh and its factions have failed to fulfill the requirements for success and that this government is the beginning of national partnership. Dealing with the results of the elections must not come through division but unity and a vision focused on the national interests of the Palestinian people. Then he asked: Do we want to go to early elections? He went on to state that the solution should come through an agreement between Fateh and Hamas to arrive at a formula for security tied to national considerations. The initiative from Fateh and the government must be in the direction of a comprehensive national dialogue in Ramallah or Gaza, and we do not want Mecca II or Mecca III.
Mohammad Barghouti started the discussion by referring to the situation of the national unity government as fluctuating between pain and hope. He said that it is during this Palestinian unity government that the largest number of martyrs, dead and wounded have fallen. National unity demands the preservation of Palestinian blood and the Palestinian national project. He added that it is wrong to assume that the military solution is the only available solution, and that he does not believe that either of the two movements possesses the political will to settle the issue militarily through infighting. He admitted that the national unity government has failed to secure the second most important requirement, which is internal security and peace among the Palestinian population. What is needed, he said, is not to dissolve this government, but to bolster it through the most important element: political stability. Also, it is important to clarify the understanding of resistance and the issue of security apparatuses whose reference must be national, with an allegiance to the nation and the Palestinian government.
Qais Abdel Karim began by referring to the disappointments among large segments of the Palestinian population and the dissipation of hope that was hanging on the national unity government. What is required for this government to succeed is an objective view of the reality as it is and not the reality that is wrapped in excuses and fabricated stories in order to justify certain political positions. He admitted that they all chose the democratic option, which was marred since the outset by a great deal of external and internal pressures that made it an inaccurate reflection of the real temperament of the electorate. If this situation persists, it would lead to a widespread civil war and no side would be capable of settling it, he said. He noted that the solutions to these problems are: a united strategy that would lead to an understanding of the resistance and the difference between it and the militias; a democratic foundation predicated on the building of the Palestinian national institutions based on sharing in the decision-making process; an agreement on democratic ways to get out of the crisis of a dual government; and the holding of new — not early — elections. One must go to the people for the solution to these problems and allow them to freely express themselves and their will regarding the direction they wish their nation to take.