By Luckyboy Pitswane
Together with the rest of the world, we in Palestine followed the process leading to the 25th of January – the second Palestinian Legislative Council elections – with the greatest interest. This arose from a deep concern we have sustained for many decades to see the immensely talented people of Palestine living in conditions of peace.
Even though they are living under occupation, more than 1,000,000 Palestinians exercised their democratic rights by participating in the second elections for the PLC, which took place 10 years after the first ones. As an international observer, I was assigned to monitor elections in the rural villages outside of Jenin, in the northern part of the West Bank With or without us, everything was well organised.
I was very impressed by the level of professionalism displayed by the Central Election Commission, Party Representatives and international observers. Everything was well organised and everyone new what she/he was doing. Apart from few human errors or discrepancies people were in a position to exercise their democratic rights in a free and fair manner.
Once again, in Jerusalem, Israel was exposed. More than 125,000 Palestinians are eligible to vote in East Jerusalem, only 6,300 were allowed to vote in post offices in Jerusalem. The rest were forced to go to the nearest polling stations outside of Jerusalem. One cannot confirm if these elections were free and fair, since no Central Elections Commission staff were allowed to work in Israeli post offices. The elections were conducted by Israeli post office staff and no counting was allowed inside the post office.
The issue of Jerusalem should be seriously looked into, because East Jerusalem is seen as a future Palestinian capital. One is shocked that even though there have been serious reports of such malpractices in the past, the world is again quiet.
Many were and are still shocked by Hamas' victory, who won 74 seats out of 132 in the Council. Hamas will lead the Palestinian Authority for the coming four years. I wish and hope that Hamas will work with Mahmoud Abbas, as explained in the comments made by Ismail Haniyya (the head of Hamas' electoral list) when he said "Hamas is a Palestinian movement. It is an aware and mature movement, one which is politically open in the Palestinian political and social arena, and to its Arab and Islamic hinterlands and similarly open to the international arena."
The so-called Quartet is missing the point in Palestine
The Quartet's reaction to Hamas' election victory in Palestine is very disappointing. Their final statement presented by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan appeared to be more politically biased, premature, unprofessional and more emotional than reflective.
Their comments remind one of the now defunct South African Apartheid Nationalist Party (NP) to impose on the African National Congress (ANC) the composition of its delegation for negotiations in the early 1990s. The NP then demanded the exclusion of the Communists ("terrorists") from the ANC delegation.
Their statement also contradicts the so called superpower's political strategy of dealing with terrorism by promoting democracy in the Middle East. Their reaction will send a confusing signal to the moderate citizens of the Gulf States who are hoping for more democratic reforms by their governments. The super-powers have once again revealed their true colours. Their intentions are not to promote democracy, but to create puppets and regimes that will always dance to their lousy music and are called allies in exchange for oil and natural resources in the Gulf region. It is unfortunate because the democratic process in Palestine has not allowed the superpowers that privilege.
The Quartet has an opportunity to work with the democratically elected Hamas now that it is a legitimate political voice of the Palestinians. If they reject Hamas, they reject Palestine. We got the message.