In light of the announcement of the dates for the Palestinian presidential, legislative and PNC elections, it is imperative to define the priorities for national action. The responsibility now rests on the shoulders of the Palestinian factions to translate what has been announced into new facts on the ground and guarantee effective participation at the ballot box.
It is also important to launch a comprehensive and integrated national dialogue and address various issues related to the elections and agree on them, as well as to guarantee their transparency and integrity. For this, the Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem and in the diaspora must be allowed to participate. Support must be given to election committees abroad to ensure full participation. This is an important issue and must be included on the agendas of the meetings between the factions. Moreover, the Central Elections Commission should accept the necessity of opening electoral headquarters outside Palestine to ensure wider participation in the elections.
Talks are scheduled to take place in Cairo and within the Palestinian territories; all of the factions and civil society institutions will take part. They will address the fine details of the elections and the processes involved, including the possibility of forming joint lists. It is also important that they ensure that there is national consensus on the issues discussed and agreed, and as much participation as possible. Arab and international monitors should be available to make sure that the electoral process is free and fair, and thus successful, with everyone's agreement to abide by the results.
Urgent action must also be taken by the Palestinian leadership to urge the international community to intervene and put pressure on the Israeli government not to hinder the elections in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. Palestinian Jerusalemites must participate in the elections and the leadership must insist on this. There can be no elections without Jerusalem's candidates and voters; they are an essential part of the nation.
By setting the timeframe and dates for the elections, the leaders will dispel any doubts about their credibility in conducting the polls. Now is the time for all Palestinian factions to make them a success by putting aside personal, partisan and factional interests. They must guarantee electoral and campaigning freedom in the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, and respect the results and the wishes of the electorate. That alone should put an end to the internal division and start the unification of Palestinian institutions. In fact, we want elections that produce a unified political system for Palestine that erases everything that the past mentality has produced, including fragmentation, and the absence of a unified vision which is focused on national interests.
We want elections that guarantee the participation of young people in an independent Palestinian decision-making process, as well as civil society institutions. They are our future.
Action must result from these elections that can lead to the end of the occupation and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. This is the national right that we must work towards throughout the election campaign and beyond.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.