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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs