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.