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
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid