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Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy:
Speaking of Democracy

Husam S. Madhoun for MIFTAH

Ramallah - Last Friday December 16, the U.S. House of Congress passed a resolution that conditioned future financial aid to the Palestinian National Authority on the exclusion of Hamas from the upcoming legislative elections slated for January 25. On the other side of the Atlantic, the European Union soon followed suit; however, this time not issued from the European Parliament but rather from the EU Foreign Policy Chief Mr. Javier Solana. In his meeting with the PNA Civil Affairs Minister Mohammed Dahlan, Solana threatened to curb financial aid to the PNA if the Palestinian extremist faction Hamas participated in the legislative elections. These statements, if anything, represent two things, double standards and counter productivity. Furthermore, the fact that such statements are coming from the more balanced and impartial EU, as opposed to the U.S., only adds insult to injury.

Since the establishment of the PNA in 1994, the EU has been the largest contributor in terms of financial aid and for that matter political support. However, these latest remarks uttered by Mr. Solana are quite disturbing. Why? Because the European Union, a federation of Democratic states, is threatening to disrupt the genuine democratic process which will inevitably have to include all portions of Palestinians society. For example, during the reign of President Arafat one of the main criticisms made by many in the international community – including the EU – was the undemocratic governance pursued by the late president. Since the inauguration of the more moderate Palestinian leader, President Abbas has not only sought much needed economic reform but also tried to accelerate democratic and institutional reform within the PNA.

So the fundamental question arises; if democracy, in this case, is not only a means but an end that the EU would like to see flourish in Palestine, as well as the wider Middle-East, then why go against the fundamental principles of democracy. According to the European Unions' draft constitution, that is yet to be ratified, the definition of democracy is "Democracy in its ideal sense is the notion that "the people" should have control of the government ruling over them. This ideal is pursued by implementing a system of voting such that the majority of people rule, either directly or indirectly through elected representatives. Liberal democracies are forms of governance where the fundamental rights of individuals in the minority are protected by law." Hence, threatening to curb aid to the PNA, if Hamas enters the legislative elections, is equivalent to threatening a sizeable portion of the Palestinian electorate. What is more disturbing is the means used, threatening to strike with monetary means to an already impoverished nation.

Furthermore, there is also the question why threaten to cut off aid to the PNA, if the joining of Hamas in legislative elections is a positive development, in terms of forcing Hamas to pursue less radical policies, as well as drop the more extremist ideologies it is found on. One can say with great certainty that the Palestinian leadership, and for that matter other Palestinian political parties, will fervently insist on Hamas to renounce its prime directive, i.e. the destruction of the State of Israel. Furthermore, as Dr. Hanan Ashrawi recently said in an interview to the BBC the inclusion of radical parties will force them to politicize their views, rather than militarize their views. In this case the counter productivity lies in the obstruction of the process of moderation that Hamas will have to go through, sooner rather than later.

For the democratic process in Palestine to be genuine and not just cosmetic, it is an imperative that extremist groups in Palestine, especially Hamas to participate in the legislative elections. Speaking of democracy is only good when it is genuinely implemented.


* Husam S. Madhoun is the Media and Information Coordinator at the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy - MIFTAH.

Source: The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH), December 20, 2005.

Visit MIFTAH Online: www.miftah.org

hagalil.com 07-06-2005



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