New Palestinian party wants to ‘unify resistance to occupation’

A Palestinian protester throws stones at an Israeli soldier in the village of Kfar Qaddum, near Nablus in the occupied West Bank. (AFP)
Updated 05 January 2019

New Palestinian party wants to ‘unify resistance to occupation’

  • The Palestinian Democratic Group is the latest arrival on the territory’s political scene
  • But the party’s motives have been called into question by some

AMMAN: A new Palestinian political party wants to unify factions to increase resistance to the occupation, one of its members has told Arab News.

The Palestinian Democratic Group is the latest arrival on the territory’s political scene, which is dominated by the rivalry between Hamas and Fatah.

It was formally launched on Jan. 3 in Gaza and Ramallah and comprises political parties and civil society organizations.

Qais Abu Layla said one of the group’s most important goals was to unify Palestinian factions to increase resistance to the occupation, and to oppose policies designed to weaken Palestinian democracy and increase fragmentation.

A split between Hamas and Fatah, which has sometimes spilled over into deadly violence, has seen rival administrations run by Hamas in Gaza and by President Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. Attempts to reconcile the two have failed.

“Our position is not only opposed to the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) leadership but also to Hamas. We feel both are responsible for the split and the negative results that it has produced," Abu Layla told Arab News.

"While we oppose the dissolving of the PLC (Palestinian Legislative Council) we believe that the idea of elections within six months can be a way out of the impasse for the reconciliation." 

The elections must include Gaza and Jerusalem and they should be based on proportional representation, he added.

But the party’s motives have been called into question by some.

Suheir Ismael, founding director of women’s media NGO TAM, said the group's scope was too narrow.   

"The group was created after people lost their salaries as members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.  To be honest, most people are very skeptical of any political move that is largely on paper, " she told Arab News.

"If they want to make a difference they need to address people's daily needs, such as the issue of the new social security law that has invigorated Palestinians more than any political position."

Najeeb Qaddoumi, a member of the Palestinian National Council and a senior Fatah leader in Jordan, said unity was an admirable goal but that the new party must be honest and take a stand if needed. 

"Many of its policies are identical to those of Fatah and we call on this new coalition to denounce the undemocratic actions of Hamas especially their latest violent actions in Gaza and their destruction to the studios of the Palestinian Broadcasting corporation,” he told Arab News.

Abu Layla said he was aware of apathy among Palestinians when it came to politics - and even hinted at the party’s potential to flop.

"To be honest there is no guarantee that this group will succeed,  but we have assembled a comprehensive group... we are realistic in our view and know that we have differences between us. But we need to find common ground that is based on the minimum policies that we all agree to," he said.


Bahrain to join US-led efforts to protect Gulf navigation

Updated 44 min 26 sec ago

Bahrain to join US-led efforts to protect Gulf navigation

  • Bahrain’s King Hamad voiced his appreciation of the US role in supporting 'regional security and stability'
  • US is seeking coalition to guarantee freedom of navigation in the Gulf

DUBAI: Bahrain said Monday it would join US-led efforts to protect shipping in the Arabian Gulf amid tensions between Washington and Tehran after a series of attacks on tankers.
Bahrain’s King Hamad voiced his country’s appreciation of the “US role in supporting regional security and stability” during a meeting with US Central Command (CENTCOM) chief General Kenneth McKenzie, state media said.
“The king confirmed the kingdom of Bahrain’s participation in the joint effort to preserve the safety of international maritime navigation and secure international corridors for trade and energy,” the official Bahrain News Agency reported.
The US has been seeking to form a coalition to guarantee freedom of navigation in the Gulf.
Britain, which already has warships on protection duty in the Gulf after a UK-flagged tanker was seized by Iranian Revolutionary Guards, has said it will join the planned operation.
But other European countries have declined to join, for fear of harming European efforts to rescue a 2015 treaty with Iran over its nuclear program.
Bahrain, which hosts the US Fifth Fleet, said last month that it would co-host a conference with the US on “maritime and air navigation security,” set for October.
Iran has seized three tankers in strategic Gulf waters since last month, including a British-flagged vessel.
That came after British Royal Marines helped impound a tanker carrying Iranian oil off the British overseas territory of Gibraltar on July 4.
Britain suspected it was destined for Syria in defiance of European Union sanctions, which Iran denies.
The US and its Gulf allies have also accused the Islamic republic of carrying out several mysterious attacks on ships in the region, which Tehran denies.