Part of the reform that some Palestinians have demanded, since being galvanized by Egyptian protests in Tahrir Square a year ago [January 25], has been their call for universal elections among all Palestinians wherever they are, on the basis of one person, one vote, for a new Palestine National Council [PNC], the PLO’s [Palestine Liberation Organization] parliament.
The idea may have been first circulated by Mamdouh Aker, a Ramallah medical doctor who was appointed by Yasser Arafat to found and head a then-new body, the Palestinian Independent Citizens Commission on Human Rights.
This commission, which makes annual reports compiling complaints it has received from Palestinians about abuses of their human rights, is now housed in its own office building basically just across the street from the back [service] entrance to the Palestine Legilative Council in Ramallah.
Aker told me in an interview in his office in this building in Ramallah that he had circulated the idea for first-time universal elections in an article he had written in Arabic in January 2010, and posted on one of the several active Arabic-language forums [including the Fatah Forum]. The article caught a great deal of attention, and was adopted by the new grouping of young Palestinians — a significant number of whom had grown up and gone to school in the U.S., and who were now back “home”, finishing university studies, and beginning to become active in trying to change the political situation which they regard as a hugely embarrassing stalemate. This group came together in support of the Egyptian protests in Tahrir Square [the first big one was held on January 25 last year] against human rights abuses by the Mubarak regime. But it was not until mid-March that the Palestinian demonstrators [which I will call “Manara Youth”, for lack of a better term to describe this new, loose, coalition] were able to hold their first relatively unmolested demonstration in support of what had then become known as the “Arab Spring”.
Aker told me, in our meeting, that he was advocating elections to revive and reform the important PNC on the basis of one-person, one-vote in almost every place in the world where Palestinians can be found — with one possible exception: the Palestinians who had become citizens of Israel, who he said should maybe not participate.
The idea of reforming the PNC is a very interesting approach.