History of the Call for PNC Elections
The call for direct elections to the PNC has three sources: (1) it is the official policy of the PLO, (2) it is the national consensus, called for by the National Reconciliation Committee formed in Cairo representing all the factions and the PNC (3) it is a popular civic demand around which Palestinian communities in the homeland and shatat have mobilised.
The PNC Registration Campaign began in the spring of 2012. The call for PNC elections has now become a civic campaign relying on the participation of Palestinians everywhere in order to register Palestinians in the camps and communities for elections. The campaign will help make these elections a reality.
Official Policy of the PLO
Article 5 of the PLO’s Fundamental Law states that members of the PNC must be elected ‘by direct vote from the Palestinian people’. The electoral system, issued on 17 July 1965, also states:
Every Palestinian has the right to vote in PNC elections if he/she is 18 years old, if his/her name has been recorded in the final electoral registers, if he/she is of sound mind, and has not been convicted of a crime against national honour.
The most recent official policy of the Palestinian National Reconciliation Agreement, signed in Cairo on 27 April 2011, announced that:
Legislative, Presidential, and the Palestinian National Council elections will be conducted at the same time, exactly one year after the signing of the Palestinian National Reconciliation Agreement.
In December 2011, and January 2012, the National Reconciliation Committee recommited itself to this principle, detailing the steps of the enfranchisement of all Palestinians through direct elections to the PNC.
National Consensus Expressed
The renewed call for direct elections to the PNC is the culmination of years of discussion, debate, and campaigning. A broad national consensus has emerged across the main political parties, civil society, right of return and refugee associations, and Palestinian communities across the world. Since 2006, the national consensus amongst major parties has been to call for creation of a democratic PLO.
In the Prisoners’ Document signed on 28 June 2006, elections to the PNC became a point of consensus to which all major Palestinian parties agreed:
National interest stipulates the formation of a new Palestinian National Council before the end of 2006 in a manner that secures the representation of all Palestinian national and Islamic forces, factions and parties and all sectors of our people through elections.
Palestinians in the 1967 territories and the shatat have called for direct elections to the PNC in various forums.
Amongst refugees a large civic mobilisation of Palestinian refugees took place between 2003 and 2006, whose findings were published in the volume entitled “Palestinians Register: Laying Foundations and Setting Directions”. This mobilisation involved the participation of thousands of Palestinians in self-organised meetings across 24 countries. These meetings facilitated a popularly driven set of demands, designed and carried out by Palestinian associations, in order to strengthen their own voices to their national representative body, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), raise their issues of concern, and make their voices heard.
Throughout these public meetings, the recurrence of common themes and collective demands formed the two central findings of Palestinians Register. First, a firm commitment to the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, foremost amongst them the Right of Return, and second, the demand for national representation through a directly elected PNC.
The national campaign for PNC elections was recently relaunched on 27 January 2011 when Palestinian students in the UK made the call for democratic inclusion of all Palestinians in national decision-making, in the name of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS). They confirmed three principles commonly held to by Palestinian bodies around the world:
- The call for direct elections to the Palestine National Council, the parliamentary body that gives authority to and creates the political platform, strategies and policies for the Palestine Liberation Organization, to be held one year from this day, in January, 2012.
- The inclusion of all our people wherever they now live – in the homeland, the shatat, in the prisons, and the camps of refuge in that election.
- That this new representative body, reflective of all sectors of our people, reform and reactivate the PLO institutions so that they embody the will of the Palestinian people as a whole, in accordance with the principle of direct elections.
Since then, the call has been a key demand of youth, and of popular events and demonstrations across Palestinian refugee camps, especially the recent national commemoration of the 63rd anniversary of the Nakba on May 15th, 2011, where the national Nakba Committee of the popular committees adopted the slogan: “Direct Elections to the PNC: A Vote for Every Palestinian, Everywhere”.