Land Day demonstrations, Gaza. Photo: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty
In an intense climate of stepped up arrests in the West Bank and Israeli attacks on Gaza, Palestinians are moving towards their first elections since 2006. Ma’an news has just reported that someone planted a bomb near the election committee headquarters in Gaza that recently reopened to register voters.
French President Hollande and President Abbas
This comes before a backdrop of exciting news this week as President Abbas announced in France on Friday he would likely be returning to the UN to seek non member status at the General Assembly and Palestinian PM Ismail Haniyeh issued a call for unity.
At a Paris news conference with French President Francois Hollande, Abbas made good on months of speculation that the Palestinians might seek to circumvent pledges by the United States, Israel’s stalwart ally, to block any Palestinian bid for membership in the Security Council — and seek alternatives in the U.N. General Assembly.
The Palestinians currently have observer status at the U.N. and an upgrade by the General Assembly to “non-member” would give Palestine recognition as a “state” — a move that could open the way for Palestinians to take legal action against Israelis through the International Criminal Court.
“We went to the Security Council. We did not obtain the vote necessary,” Abbas said. “If we don’t return to the (peace) negotiations, we’ll of course go to the General Assembly to obtain the status of non-member state, as is the case for the Vatican or Switzerland.”
[Switzerland entered the UN as a full state in 2002 after decades of being an observer state.]
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh issued a call for unity “to address the world with one voice”: We Palestinians are reclaiming our destiny
I would like to reiterate on behalf of my people our sincere desire to live in security and stability, without wars and bloodshed; we hope that the world will help us in this venture. We extend our hand to all those who seek a just peace to work seriously to end the occupation and help us establish our state, which the world has already recognised.
We recognise that this requires a Palestinian unity that we seek to achieve. But external pressure has stood in the way, obstructing the path to political equality and national reconciliation. We believe that the absence of international recognition of the Palestinian democratic election of 2006, won by Hamas, has contributed to the current state of division, and to the creation of a weak Palestinian side that has fallen prey to accepting concessions on the rights of its people.
But today we stand again as a Palestinian people. Although under siege in the Gaza Strip, we have endured war and aggression, and withstood attempts to wipe us out without fading away. We are working hard in order to be able to address the world with one voice that represents the will of all our people, with an emphasis on the desire to live a free, decent and secure life.
We hope that this time we will be able to pass through the neck of the bottle and move on towards a genuine national reconciliation based on the formation of a coalition government that could prepare for free and transparent elections. And then the world must recognise the results of Palestinian democracy – particularly now, when the countries of the Arab spring are experiencing democratic transition, and a return to a lost authenticity that will not tear the region apart, but bring it together.
As for the bomb in Gaza, there is this from Ma’an News: Bomb plot targeted election HQ
The suspect allegedly planted an explosive device inside the home of an independent figure located opposite the elections headquarters and set it to explode as commission staff arrived.
“When we accepted the elections commission, it was a commitment to accomplish reconciliation,” Haniyeh said, adding that Hamas made many concessions in the spirit of restoring unity.
Haniyeh added that reconciliation requires freedom of will and political decision. He added that there were still detentions of Hamas leaders in the West Bank, indicating that not everyone supported restoring unity in the occupied territories.
Hamas’ agreement to let the CEC work in Gaza was a condition set by Fatah leader and President Mahmoud Abbas for starting consultations on forming a unity government.