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What next Palestine?

Monday 27 March 2006, by Refaat SABBAH

Everybody was surprised with what has happened lately in the Palestinian political scene. This fast and powerful climb of the political Islam, not only put donors and politicians in perplexing situation, but it also caused the rest to wonder what and why this happened. The wide and noticeable corruption, the absence of rule of law and disorder in the last few years and the political and administrative ill performance have resulted in lower productivity, less loyalty to work and sever public anger.

The absence of the Palestinian leadership that was supposed to be able to lead people to a safe shore, made those people judge and punish the Palestinian authority, including those in the left, by voting for Hamas, believing that Hamas will be able to take a stand towards the mentioned issues, regardless of that stand. By doing so, they hoped it will spare things from more deterioration. The election process that brought Hamas to the top, was completely democratic. This fact was assured and witnessed by all participating local and international observers. In this regard, we would like to add that it was the first time in the Arabic world history where power was peacefully transferred, and this might present a model for future elections.

In my opinion, it was a promising thing. What they did, people were saying: either you maintain rule of law, accountability and transparency or you are out of power. In Qalqilia and Rafah, for example, Hamas took over most of municipality seats but they failed to win any in the legislative council elections, few months later. This example showed that the public has already started judging and monitoring Hamas for their work at the municipality level. As I believe, this will give the Palestinian democratic stream a four years chance to rebuild itself and get ready for the next elections. Based on what happened in Qalqilia and Rafah, Hamas is not likely to capture majority of legislative seats, and the democratic stream does have a considerable opportunity to get some of those seats. At present, all political parties, organizations and individuals in Palestine who believe in democracy, tolerance and world peace to reorganize them selves and prepare more appealing agenda.

The role of the civil society organizations are asked to intensify their work regarding maintaining regulations and legislations away from discrimination and extremism. Public education is one major field where political Islam will try to implement his agenda. Here comes the work of organizations working in the educational sector that ought to keep pursuing a teacher who cares about democracy and a student who believes in rule of law, progress and tolerance.

In the coming four years, we think that working on building capacity of educational cadre through programs that encourage issues of tolerance, democracy and diversity is of the most affective goals

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Refaat SABBAH is member of the Teacher Creativity Center in Ramallah. TCC is a founding member of Alternatives international.