‘Historic’ Palestinian factions’ reconciliation meeting puts smiles on faces

Last week’s gathering was chaired virtually by President Mahmoud Abbas from Ramallah. (AFP)
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Updated 10 September 2020

‘Historic’ Palestinian factions’ reconciliation meeting puts smiles on faces

  • Delegates set a five-week timetable for committees to finalize the recommendations and present them to the next meeting

GAZA CITY: The general secretaries of the Palestinian factions held an “historic” reconciliation meeting in Beirut, nine years after a similar get-together in Cairo ended in fall out and disagreement.

Last week’s gathering, chaired virtually by President Mahmoud Abbas from Ramallah, included 12 factions of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), in addition to Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Smiles, friendship, and courtesy were in plentiful supply, producing a generally optimistic outlook from the meeting, even from polar-opposite political rivals Fatah and Hamas.

Secretary-general of the PLO’s executive committee, Saeb Erekat, told Arab News: “The meeting represents an historic event, and an important step on the road to achieving the unity of the Palestinian political and struggle position, and the embodiment of political partnership and agreement on clear work mechanisms and a timetable to end the division, which weakens the Palestinian position in the face of challenges.”

Husam Badran, head of national relations for Hamas and a member of the organization’s political bureau, told Arab News that staging the meeting had been a necessary step in bringing sides together.

It had been an important and long-awaited event brought about as a result of “detailed discussions between Hamas and Fatah about what is to come, and the dangers facing our national cause,” he said.

“We believe, in Hamas, that our unity as Palestinian people with all its components give us more power, and we are talking about the Palestine Liberation Organization in this context, which we believe is the inclusive home for all Palestinians.

“But it should include everyone with all the factional components, civil society institutions, and balanced national figures,” Badran added.

Erekat said that Abbas’ approval of committees’ recommendations from the meeting was a key mandate and clear confirmation of the Palestinian leadership’s interest in the success of the unity mission.

Delegates set a five-week timetable for committees to finalize the recommendations and present them to the next meeting that, according to Erekat, would be attended by the secretaries of the factions, members of the PLO executive and central committees, and political and religious figures.

The committees discussed the three main issues of peaceful popular resistance, the national and political project, and political partnership and the rebuilding of the PLO.

Since the split in 2007, the PLO file has remained an obstacle to the success of many of the understandings and agreements signed by the two factions.

Badran said the presence of a strong, unified PLO representing all Palestinians would block the road to “stalkers” and close the door to parties that justified their policies by claiming “the Palestinians are not represented by anyone.”

In the new positive atmosphere of cooperation, a ministerial delegation consisting of five ministers from the West Bank visited the Gaza Strip to follow up on efforts to contain the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Gaza.

However, political science professor, Ibrahim Abrash, told Arab News that the success of last week’s meeting would be judged on results rather than the smiles of the leaders.

He said that correcting the Palestinian reality required “continuing efforts from everyone, and not only meeting the secretary-generals of the factions or waiting for the outputs of the committees that have been formed.”

Hani Al-Masri, a political analyst and the director general of the Masarat center for policy research and strategic studies, said while some Palestinians remained skeptical about the true intentions of the meeting the gathering in itself had been significant and a step on the road to strengthening fragile Palestinian unity.
 


Algerian parliament vote ‘before year’s end’

Algerians walk across from the People's National Assembly (parliament) building during a voting session on constitutional reforms in the capital Algiers, on September 10, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 22 September 2020

Algerian parliament vote ‘before year’s end’

  • The term of the widely discredited current lower house, elected in 2017, was originally set to end in May 2022

ALGIERS: The Algerian president says early legislative elections aimed at opening parliament to civil society will be held before the end of the year to give a new face to a parliament long dominated by a single party.

Abdelmadjid Tebboune did not set a date but indicated on Sunday evening that the parliamentary voting would follow a national referendum on a constitutional revision to be held Nov. 1, a highly symbolic date marking the start of this North African nation’s seven-year war with France for independence that began Nov. 1, 1954.
The next National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, which “will be made up of lawmakers from universities, civil society, will serve as the base of the ‘New Algeria,’” Tebboune said in an interview with two Algerian newspapers.
“If the people want change, it is time to work to not remain in the ambiguity that prevailed earlier.”
Tebboune was referring to the corruption that highlighted the 20 years of power of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, forced to resign in April 2019 amid growing peaceful street protests and a push from the then-Army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah, who died in December.

If the people want change, it is time to work to not remain in the ambiguity that prevailed earlier.

Abdelmadjid Tebboune, President of Algeria

Tebboune was elected promising change, including a new parliament, though the vote was largely boycotted by the protest movement, the Hirak.
The term of the widely discredited current lower house, elected in 2017, was originally set to end in May 2022.
A new electoral law foreseen in the constitutional revision “will put in place safeguards to keep dirty money out of politics,” the president said, adding that with the constitutional revision Algeria would “truly be at the service of the citizen and not at the service of a group exercising domination.”
Numerous business leaders and two prime ministers have been jailed on corruption charges since the downfall of Bouteflika. During a trial last week, lawmaker Baha Eddine Tliba admitted to paying the former chief of the powerful FLN party Djamel Ould Abbas, to be placed on his list of candidates to ensure him a parliamentary seat.