Friday, August 20, 2004


Post-withdrawal plan for Gaza

From al-Ayyam (translated by FBIS), here is a report on the 18 point initiative developed by Marwan Barghouti and leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad
This initiative was developed in accordance with contacts in Hamas and Islamic Jihad until it was reshaped into a formula accepted by the parties working on it, which are the same parties that reached the truce that lasted 52 days last year. The group working on the initiative includes Barghuthi himself, along with Hamas' political bureau chief, Khalid Misha'al, and the Islamic Jihad's secretary general, Ramadan Shallah. The sources say the endeavor is receiving the support of Egypt.
Honestly, these are the people that get things done in Gaza (as noted by the 52 day truce), so this 18 point plan should be looked upon with interest. I don't think it's even been mentioned in the American press, and only alluded to in English language press elsewhere. Here is the text of the initiative as drafted by Barghouti.
"These are proposed ideas that do not necessarily give answers to all the details. Yet they constitute a first step for an agreement.

I think that there is a need to accelerate the drafting of a Palestinian national document, and if it is not possible to reach a comprehensive agreement on all the issues, it will be necessary to split the agreement into two phases: The first will have to do solely with the Gaza Strip, while the second will tackle comprehensive political issues.

We need to and can reach an agreement that solely handles the situation in Gaza and realizes the following objectives: Concluding a preventive agreement that can be thrown in the face of the international community and Israel so as to deter aggression. Second, it should be an agreement that revives hope and confidence among the Palestinian people. Third, it should be an agreement that introduces partnership and the building of a new political system if there is a comprehensive Israeli withdrawal from Gaza's land, sea, and airspace in a way that gives the chance for national sovereignty on the Palestinian-Egyptian border, the airport, and a sovereign Palestinian road that links the Gaza Strip with the West Bank. The withdrawal should lead to the release of the Palestinian prisoners of war and detainees, starting with the residents of the Gaza Strip.

If that is achieved, a Palestinian leadership body (a follow-up committee) should be set up comprising representatives from the factions, public figures, and members of the Palestinian Legislative Council. This body shall be tasked with supervising and monitoring the implementation of this document and following up on its proceedings.

These items are:

1. All Islamic and national forces pledge to maintain and protect national unity and to work to strengthen this unity on a democratic basis.

2. The forces stress the sacredness of Palestinian blood and reject and denounce the use of violence to solve any dispute or internal problem for any reason.

3. The forces stress that exercising national sovereignty after the complete and comprehensive withdrawal will be exclusive to the Palestinian Authority and its agencies.

4. The leadership body (the follow-up committee) shall monitor the implementation of its decisions through coordination with the Palestinian government.

5. The forces deem the arrest of persons for political reasons a prohibited practice that the Authority should refrain from under all circumstances.

6. The forces will continue enhancing and strengthening the Intifadah until the end of the occupation and settlement in the West Bank.

7. The leadership body (the follow-up committee) shall supervise all properties evacuated by the occupation forces in the Gaza Strip, and ensure through coordination with the Palestinian security forces that these properties are not touched or trespassed upon.

8. The national and Islamic forces shall declare a halt to all attacks and armed operations from the Gaza Strip after the withdrawal mentioned above.

9. All parties shall bring an end to military parades, firing guns in the air during celebrations, and carrying weapons in public places.

10. All political powers shall have full freedom to practice political and partisan activities and shall be guaranteed the freedom of expressing opinion, thought, and belief.

11. Municipal and local elections shall be held in a period not exceeding six months from the date of the complete and comprehensive Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

12. The door shall be open for all members of the military apparatus of the factions to join the various Palestinian security forces, where they will be trained and given the appropriate ranks.

13. As of the date of the Israel withdrawal, the security forces shall be banned from interfering in any political activity. Members of these forces shall be banned from expressing political opinion or becoming members in any political party. The forces shall move to revoke the membership of any individual recruited by the security forces. In case an individual wants to engage in political activity, he will have to resign his job. Therefore, the security services shall as of the abovementioned date act as a body subject to law.

14. Three months after the comprehensive withdrawal, all armed fighters, forces, and citizens shall hand over their weapons to the Palestinian security forces, which will compensate them for these weapons.

15. Administrative, fiscal, and security reform shall be conducted at the Authority's agencies, while all those persons who have committed violations, acts of trespassing, or (illegal) seizure of properties shall be referred to the judiciary. A committee headed by a judge shall be set up to receive complaints.

16. All laws issued by the Legislative Council that ensure the independence of the judiciary shall be enforced, along with civil service and pension laws.

17. All forces deem presidential and legislative elections to be a prelude to building a democratic regime in Palestine. The forces shall work to achieve this goal in accordance with the circumstances.

18. These suggestions and ideas are considered a first step toward reaching a comprehensive national struggle-based political agreement that governs national ties and embodies the goal of setting up a joint reference framework."

The most important points to me are numbers 5, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, and 14. The ability of a post-withdrawal authority/governing body to reduce the influence of armed militias/militant groups basically allows the Gaza withdrawal to happen without a Palestinian civil war breaking out and the Gaza strip being divided up amongst warlords. While the plan is obviously ambitious (some might say unrealistic) I think the fact that the people behind it are the heavy hitters in Palestinian society, the people that can motivate people to give up their weapons, to put an end to military parades with people firing into the air, etc., is very encouraging.

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Bill Adams
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