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

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

Report from member of British think tank says Russian extradition requests keep targets from traveling More

US Lawmakers Weigh Turkish Anti-terror Moves

Turkey’s two-pronged campaign against Islamic State militants, Kurdish PKK forces provokes mixed reactions on Capitol Hill More

What Happens When Americans Eat What They Tweet

You are what you tweet, according to new maps that show a correlation between obesity and tweeting about high-fat foods 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.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs