MIFTAH holds discussions on current political developments in the Gaza Strip and their impact on the national reconciliation committees
August 08, 2017

In cooperation and coordination with the Negotiations Support Unit/ Negotiations Affairs Department, MIFTAH held several meetings in which it brought together members of the women’s reconciliation shadow committee “WIFAQ”, and a number of officials from the national reconciliation committees. The goal was to inform the members of the women’s shadow committees and a number of women leaders of the details and developments in the national unity reconciliation file. This is a step MIFTAH hopes will work as pressure towards creating a women’s position that supports the participation of Palestinian women in the national dialogue and towards achieving national reconciliation.

The meetings hosted the head of the public freedoms committee, Dr. Mustapha Barghouthi and Mr. Munir Salameh, head of the PLO national database team and who oversaw the discussions on the Swiss paper (for resolving the employee crisis). They were part of the strategic goal of “promoting national unity” and mobilizing international support for the Palestinian vision, through which MIFTAH seeks to revive the internal national dialogue to reach a consensus over viewpoints regarding necessary Palestinian political positions.

Dr. Barghouthi spoke about the work being done in the freedoms committee, saying that it had gotten off to a good start. He maintained that the committee was able to address many issues, including passports for residents of the Gaza Strip and political arrests made by both sides of the political divide. He said cooperation from both sides with the committee stayed intact until 2014 but then stopped. He stressed on the importance of political partnership and acceptance of the other given that this was a precursor for ending the division. Barghouthi also cited the Beirut meeting of February 2017, saying its results were positive. The participants had agreed to form a national unity government that would be responsible for ending the division, for bringing Hamas and Islamic Jihad into the PLO and for holding general elections. This never happened, however. Barghouthi maintained that the best way out of the current situation is through a return to the concept of the people’s right to choose in addition to applying popular pressure on both sides of the division through benefiting from the Jerusalem experience in this regard, with women at the forefront. He also said there must be a call for a national unity government program and a call on representatives of political forces and civil society to participate further in in national reconciliation efforts. Barghouthi pointed to the lack in support and public pressure for women’s representation in national reconciliation. He stressed that the women’s movement would have to reclaim this role and also take the initiative to open files on the violence against and killing of women in Gaza and the West Bank. Finally, Barghouthi expressing his own support for the inclusion of women in the freedoms committee.

Mr. Salameh presented the Swiss paper (on resolving the employee crisis) which was signed by Fatah and Hamas in 2014. He briefed the women’s reconciliation committee on past and current challenges to implementing the signed agreement. Salameh stressed that resolving the employee problem was one gateway for achieving reconciliation.

Salameh also presented findings and figures on the situation in Gaza under Hamas rule throughout the years of the division. He pointed to a long list of decisions issued by the Hamas authority in the official newspaper, which created a dangerous reality from the economic, political, social and educational aspects. He said these must be addressed the day after national reconciliation is achieved even though they were never published in the enacted official PA legal system. Salameh also called for dealing with facts and data in terms of the national project and national interests.

Meanwhile, presentations by the members of the women’s shadow committee recommended the need to hold additional round table discussions in order to get the most out of the findings and information presented by Salameh. The committee said it would use this information in any future discussions with the two sides of the division. It would also obtain necessary information, monitor changes made by the two parties on the ground in terms of decisions and laws, monitor and evaluate their repercussions on Palestinian society and unite under a women’s agenda that supports the position of women and allows them to participate in national dialogues. Additionally, it said it would hold both Fatah and Hamas accountable for the repercussions of the division which the Palestinian street is paying the price for, women in particular.