Palestinian National Initiative
Statement regarding the makeup of the new Palestinian cabinet
The New Palestinian Government Program:
No change, no reform, no strategy for managing the national struggle
22 February 2005
The new Palestinian cabinet, recently submitted to the Palestinian Legislative Council for approval, was a disappointment for the Palestinian public. The promises made during the presidential campaigns about genuine comprehensive reforms are not being fulfilled, and the current makeup of the government indicates that its leaders are not interested in fulfilling the needs, ambitions, and demands of the Palestinian people.
Their proposed political program is exceedingly vague, an assortment of empty institutional statements without any detailed measures on dealing with issues of key concern to Palestinians. These issues include the effective management of the conflict and negotiations, the release of prisoners, stopping the further construction of the illegal Apartheid Wall and settlements, combating widespread corruption and favoritism, and establishing genuine reforms – especially the creation of an independent judiciary system.
The program includes no action plan to empower an independent judiciary and establish the rule of law. It only repeats the general sentiments heard over and over again from previous Authority governments; and the track records of these governments incline toward weakening the judiciary system and the rule of law and strengthening factional structures and favoritism in Palestinian society.
The program, moreover, did not mention a basis for security apparatus reforms in terms of obeying the rule of law and elected bodies. It did not stipulate that the security apparatus must not interfere in political, economic, or media issues and that it must serve all Palestinian people without political or factional bias.
Palestinians are tired of empty slogans that do not reflect reality or include practical steps for implementing programs for positive change. Palestinians are also tired of the governing party making decisions alone and of widespread institutionalized favoritism.
One-party rule has created government after government without serious and practical programs for democratic reform and an effective national strategy. The present government is once again set to become a staging ground for personal competition and conflicts between people of similar political stripes for positions of power. Personal interests are still being allowed to trump community interests.
The same problems exist within the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). Five years after elections were supposed to have taken place, the PLC no longer represents the Palestinian people or the Palestinian political map. Like in the cabinet, many PLC members are busy competing with each other for positions and ministerial benefits.
What we need in order to address these and other problems is a smaller and more efficient national government, with fewer ministerial positions, which is transparent, fair, and free of favoritism. The government should work toward comprehensive and genuine reforms for the next few months, combating corruption and mismanagement and strengthening the rule of law. The new government should create an independent judiciary and guarantee free PLC and local elections without interference.
The government must also consolidate the legal and economic sectors in order to encourage free investment and positive economic development. It should swiftly and firmly hold accountable anyone who dares make use of the Palestinian Authority apparatus to bend state policies to suit personal interests.
It must show the Palestinian people that it is serious in its efforts to conduct reforms and redistribute Palestinian Authority power and resources to support the most vulnerable layers of Palestinian society, who are so deeply threatened by Israeli occupation policies. Such a government will be better able to manage the conflict and strive for the Palestinian national rights to freedom and independence.
The Palestinian people raised their voices during elections and demanded comprehensive reforms and more transparent and democratic institutions. This is what we will fight for.
For more information, please contact Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi at 059 254 218 or see our website http://www.almubadara.org.