Civil society and community work organizations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory mobilise to protect elections, and call on political forces to consider Jerusalem as the emblem of challenge and not to wait for approval
Civil society organizations from across the spectrum met together to discuss the electoral process, particularly regarding the city of Jerusalem (the city). While it refuses to hold the elections, on a daily basis, Israel violates Palestinian people’s rights throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), especially in Jerusalem, to create a fait accompli to implement settlement plans, and change the character of the holy city.
Civil society organizations highlighted that holding the 2021 general elections under the occupation is extraordinary. These are not comparable to any elections under independence and freedom from all forms of colonialism. Still, civil society organizations view elections as an important step on many levels. In the first place, elections represent a new milestone for reconsidering one of three component of the Palestinian political system within the Greenline. Absence of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) has further complicated the internal Palestinian political scene. It has adversely affected functions of official institutions, rule of law, and separation of powers. Secondly, elections provide an entry point to putting an end to over 15 years of the internal Palestinian political divide. In Jerusalem, while elections have always been considered as a landmark, today the upcoming elections are fundamentally different frompreviously, in view of recent US measures, including the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel, and the move of the US embassy to the city.
Civil society organizations stress the need to hold legislative and presidential elections on the date assigned by the Presidential Decree on the General Elections of 2021. Elections should be carried out throughout the OPT, including Jerusalem. The city should serve as a field of confrontation with the occupation at all levels and phases of the electoral process. Participation in the elections should be maintained through actions on the ground across the city squares and quarters, particularly those subject to heinous forced displacement policies. Political confrontation should also reach the international level, to lay bare the ugly face of the Israeli occupation which boasts democracy at international forums. Elections shall be invested to highlight Israeli violations against Jerusalem, and expose Israeli policies designed to change the Arab Palestinian character of the holy city.
Civil society organization reaffirm the right of Palestinian in Jerusalem to participate in the 2021 General Elections. Solutions, insights, and tools shall be devised to enable these Palestinians to exercise their right. In this regard, Palestinians in Jerusalem were included on the voters’ list, and furthers, if necessary, the Central Elections Commission (CEC) could open and publicly announce polling stations at different facilities throughout the city. Possibilities like inviting Palestinians to cast their votes at UN and EU offices could be suggested, to furnish an opportunity to heighten the city’s identity, reject de facto policies, and assert Palestinian sovereignty over the holy city.
Civil society organizations call for putting an end to media statements, which opt for cancelling the elections if Israel refuses to hold them in Jerusalem. The organizations believe that such statements make the Palestinian people’s will and sovereignty over Jerusalem hostage to the Israeli occupation and policies. They also call on all national forces, the executive power, and CEC to adopt a discourse, which asserts that elections will be held in Jerusalem. This discourse will reflect confrontation with the occupying power and send a clear message to both Israel and international community: the Palestinian people have sovereignty over Jerusalem, and exercise their right to political participation by their will, not by a decision from, or at the will of, the occupying power.
Civil society organizations reject the continued monopoly of political decisions, including in relation to the call for holding or cancelling of the elections by any political faction or force. They warn against a unilateral decision to abolish the elections, allegedly because Israel rejects to organise them in Jerusalem. This will have grave consequences on the future of the Palestinian political system, civil peace, and national cause. It will further exacerbate the degradation of rights and freedoms.
Civil society organizations call on all political forces, community institutions, and private sector entities to turn the elections in Jerusalem into a field of confrontation with the occupying power. These organizations also declare their intention to carry out all electoral activities. In particular, they will raise public awareness of all phases of the electoral process, including the electoral campaign and voting. They will observe the electoral process throughout polling centres in Jerusalem. While confronting Israel’s rejection of their activities, civil society organizations call on third States to bear their responsibilities as High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions and human rights conventions. These States need to impose sanctions on Israel for violating international norms and laws.
Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Council
Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO)
Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem
Palestinian Coalition for Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (Adala)
National and Community Task Force in Jerusalem
Palestinian Disability Coalition
Civil Coalition for the Reform and Protection of the Judiciary
Civil Coalition for Election Support and Observation