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

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid