News / Middle East

Palestinian Cabinet Resigns Amid Calls for Political Reform in West Bank

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad speaks to his cabinet members after a meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, February 14, 2011
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad speaks to his cabinet members after a meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, February 14, 2011

The Palestinian Cabinet submitted its resignation Monday to President Mahmoud Abbas, as Palestinian authorities in the West Bank face the same pressure for political reform being felt in other parts of the Arab world.  

Bustling Al Manara Square is the political and commercial center for the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The statues of stone lions guarding the center of the square are traditional symbols of bravery, power and pride.

Flags representing the Palestinian Authority and the Fatah party flutter from the lampposts above.

Here young Palestinians like Basam Jabber, 18, gather to drink coffee and discuss the wave of change sweeping the Arab world in the wake of massive protests in Egypt and the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.

"Yes for sure, this will bring more democracy and more freedom and you know the freedom of speech was not really accepted, but right now everybody can say it and everything can change," said Jabber.

Before President Mubarak stepped down, Palestinian officials were mostly silent about the demonstrations in Cairo and across Egypt.

For Palestinians, Mr. Mubarak had been a crucial ally, both during peace negotiations with Israel and as a mediator between rival factions such as Fatah in the West Bank and the Islamist militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

However, in the days following President Mubarak’s ouster, officials with the Palestinian Authority are embracing the new order.

"We have a positive attitude towards these changes because changes towards democratization can only be good for the Egyptians and the rest of the Arab people, including the Palestinians,"said Ghassan Khatib, the spokesman for the government in Ramallah. So we expect these changes will have only a positive impact on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian cause”"

On Monday the Palestinian Cabinet submitted its resignation and President Mahmoud Abbas asked Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to form a new government.

A day after Mr. Mubarak’s resignation, the Palestinians announced they will hold long overdue presidential and legislative elections by September.

Hamas has rejected holding such elections in Gaza, but Palestinian Authority spokesman Ghassan Khatib says the vote will occur, if only in the West Bank.

"It is not going to be the ideal election, but at the same time the Palestinian people and their right of voting and selecting their leadership should not remain hostage to the will of Hamas," said Khatib.

Palestinians hope to turn the West Bank and Gaza, located on opposite sides of Israel, into an independent state.

Hamas took over Gaza by force in 2007 and efforts to end the split with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank have failed.

Mustafa Barghouti, who heads an opposition party in the Palestinian parliament, says it is time for reconciliation.

"The call for democracy is very powerful," he said. "The major impact in Palestine, the largest voice you hear today by the people, is a demand to both Fatah and Hamas to end their division and allow Palestinian unity again so that we can have democratic and free elections, so that we can have people’s participation."

Back in Al Manara Square, Abtihal Eroush, 25, says while life under Israeli occupation is difficult, she is encouraged by what she calls the revolution in Egypt.

She expects young people will lead any future reform in the Arab world.

"Actually I was very excited, I was very happy because finally we have a young generation deciding to go out to do everything, she said. "We are Palestinians under occupation, we do not have a lot of things we can do, but with the Arab countries they are suffering they came out and they woke up and they start talking, that is something interesting."

With winds of change blowing over the Middle East, Palestinians in the West Bank hope their lives will change for the better.

What happened in Egypt, they say, represents the entry of the Arab world into modernization and the awakening of a new generation seeking freedom and democracy.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Official Pleased With Ebola Containment Measure

Official says three-day sensitization effort will help reduce infection rate of Ebola disease nationwide More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid