- Published on Thursday, 12 July 2012 12:32
By Hugo van Randwyck
With the stalled 'Unity' deal, Palestinians are allowed to ask 'Unity of who?'. The diferent political parties could step back and look at the bigger picture and maybe they will see an easier way forward to elections and also helping the world see the Palestinian viewpoint about refugees in a positive way.
What is unity of Palestinians? Is it only the West Bank and Gaza? What about the refugees in the Lebanon and Jordan and other countries, and also the diaspora? Over 60% of Palestinians are refugees and diaspora.
If there already is a Palestine Central Elections Commission (CEC), then how about organising a worldwide Palestinian elections - similar to what the Lbyans have done - using Out of Country Voting (OCV), an internatinally recognised process, with internationakl observers, and international media reporting? By including all Paletsinians in voter registration and voting, then there would be 'unity', and a stronger voice in negotiations and international affairs.
The International Organisation of Migration (IOM) has helped many countries include their diaspora in voting, Libya the most recent, and also Iraq and Afghanistan, so everyone has an opportunity to have their say.
Let parties ask the Palestine CEC to develop a new Voter Registration Card, that has new information on it - town and district and country of origin. For example, if a refugee was originally from Jaffa, then: Town of Origin: Jaffa, District iof origin: Jaffa, Country of Origin: Palestine.
Let's use this opportunity to develop something new and help the world 'see and hear' the refugees more easily. Having the refugees silent and invisable for 64 years has not been a successful policy. Let give them a 'voting voice' using the OCV process, of in-person voting, using a ballot paper, in front of the media - just like the Libyans have done - and develop the unity of the Palestinians. Would you manage a football team with only 5 players on the pitch and 6 in the car park? Better to have 11 players on the pitch.
Offering every Palestinian in the West Bank, Gaza, refugees and diaspora in other countries, a Voter Registration Card, with town,district and country of origin, will help with unity. Let the world see how many Palestinians are from: Acre, Haifa, Safed, Beisan, Nazareth, Tiberias, Tulkarm, Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Jaffa, Jerusalem, Ramleh, Gaza, Beersheba, Hebron. A voter registration in Lebanon could show that of 300,000 new Palestinian voters, 100,000 originally come from Haifa, 100,000 from Acre, 25,000 from Nazareth, 25,000 from Tiberias, 25,000 from Safed, 25,000 Beisan - this could be boadcast to the world, who were not aware of this information.
A newly designed Voter Registration Card, by the CEC, could be used in PLC (Palestine Legislative Council) elections, Presidential elections and also PNC (Palestine National Coiuncl) elections. When the parties next meet, let them have this idea as an agenda item.
In addition, to help the parties work together, they may want to consider having elections every year, and so help them keep in touch with all Palestinians in the world on how they are performing, and working as a team.
Unity involves all Palestinians, let the CEC also develop options for a new Voter Registration Card and let the parties ask for one that includes, town, district and country of origin. This is a positive option for moving forward.
Hugo van Randwyck is an implmentation consultant, who has travelled to Israel/Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Syria and the Lebanon, on holiday and als visited Sabra Shatilla. He feels the media in the West rarely sees or hears the refugees and diaspora and that the Out of Country Voting, showing town, district and country of origin, will help in communicating better with the public in the world. He has been workng with a Palestinian on a Facebook page promoting the ideas above: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Palestine-Unity-Elections-Refugees-Diaspora-West-Bank-and-Gaza/424217250931056