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Palestinian Quest for Stability, Peace

and Democracy

 

Dr. Adnan Musallam

Lecturer

Bethlehem University

Bethlehem. The Holy Land

            The death of the Palestinian historical leader and figure, President Arafat, on 11 November 2004, the smooth transition from a one-man rule to institutional rule in the PLO and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), the free and orderly municipal elections of December 2004, and the PNA presidential elections of January 2005 in which Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) was elected by a majority of 62% of ballots casted in a fair and democratic elections are all testimonies to encouraging signs and trends in Palestinian society. The sweeping January 2005 municipal elections victory by HAMAS/Islamic Resistance Movement in the Gaza Strip should not be seen as a victory for terrorism. Instead, there is a good chance that HAMAS will turn from an armed resistance group into a political mass movement after having won political legitimacy in both the December West Bank municipal elections and this election. HAMAS' Victory could pave the way as well for other armed resistance groups like Al-Jihad group and Al-Aqsa Brigades to opt for the way of the "ballot" instead of the "bullet".  

The challenges facing the newly elected leader of the PLO and the PNA, Abu Mazen, are many, chief among them his ability to bring harmony, stability and unity in the Palestinian street, and to improve the economic lot of Palestinians. All indications point out that he is trecking in the right direction. His immediate goal of de-militarization of the uprising (Intifada), 2000-2005, and securing a ceasefire through his dialogue with Hamas, Al-Jihad, Al-Aqsa Brigades and other Palestinian armed factions is being realized gradually. And Palestinian national security forces are now being redeployed all throughout the Gaze Strip with a mutual Palestinian-Israeli military arrangements in order to maintain law and order.

The biggest hurdles in the way of Abu Mazen and his determination to unite all Palestinians behind him in his quest for a mutual general ceasefire are the unclear policies of the Israeli government toward mutual ceasefire. The window of opportunity for peace and tranquility in the Holy Land is wide open for the first time in many years. Israel policies in the occupied territories can help or hinder all the encouraging signs coming out of Palestinian society