Date: 02 / 02 / 2007 Time: 19:37

Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Palestinian Centre for Surveys and Political Research has issued a study in which four options were presented to the Palestinian president for how to proceed from the current political deadlock.

These choices were:

1) a national unity government;

2) early presidential and legislative elections;

3) dismiss this government and form an emergency one;

4) the resignation of the Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman i.e. himself.

In a summary of the study, the centre said that the choices must be analysed in terms of how positive or negative they are. Specifically, the centre advised considering the four options in terms of, firstly, whether they are constitutional, secondly, in terms of the public reaction to these measures, and thirdly, how much the choice matches the five following Palestinian vital interests.

1. Ending and preventing the internal fighting.

2. Lifting the siege and the international boycott.

3. Supporting and enhancing the democratic changes in Palestinian society

4. Enforcing and enhancing the chances to build the state establishments

5. Ending the Israeli occupation.

The study found that the first choice, forming a national unity government, is acceptable constitutionally. Furthermore, this option is supported by the Palestinian people and complies with the Palestinian vital interests, especially in terms of stopping the fighting, enhancing democracy and building state establishments. The ability of this option to end the siege and the occupation is limited, although it is expected that over time, the ability of this option to achieve these aims will improve, especially if Hamas shows greater ability to adapt and greater political flexibility once a unity government is formed.

The study also found that the other three options (i.e. early presidential and legislative elections, dismissing this government and forming an emergency one, and the resignation of the PA chairman) do not able to comply with the Palestinian interests as they may not end the internal fighting and will weaken the democratic path. In addition, they will weaken the continuation of state building and will not contribute to ending the occupation or the return to the peace process.

It is also not sure that these three options would lift the siege. Even if they did, it may only succeed partially or temporarily.

In spite of the Palestinians’ support for early elections, it is still not clear if they would continue to support it if they knew that this would not end the internal fighting.

The study ended by saying that the main issue in regards to the first option, which is the preferred option, is that this option is not able to meet the Palestinian higher interests – such as ending the boycott comprehensively – in a short time. The centre says that this is because Hamas refuses, on principle, to accept the conditions of the Quartet.

The Quartet, which comprises of the EU, UN, US and Russia, laid down three stipulations on any new Palestinian government: that it accepts the state of Israel, renounces violence and adopts all the previously signed agreements. Hamas has so far rejected these stipulations.

Still, Hamas has succeeded in making partial adjustments to its stance and in dealing with these conditions positively. It accepts it must respect the signed agreements and recognize Israel as a current reality. It has also accepted to have a long-term truce with no time limit. These adjustments to Hamas’ positions pave the way for the first choice being the most viable, in spite of its inability to immediately lift the siege.


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