Tuastad, Dag Henrik (2012) Democratizing the PLO, PRIO Paper. Oslo: PRIO.
The PLO is today on the verge of being democratically reconstituted. Although it might be optimistic to arrange PLO elections already by May 2012, as the May 2011 Cairo Agreement by the main Palestinian factions stipulates, crucially, there is political will within the top leadership of the two main Palestinian political actors, Fatah and Hamas, of holding such elections. Those who want genuine reconciliation and PLO reforms now appear to be stronger than the elements who want to sustain status quo, within both parties. The political distance between Fatah and Hamas has narrowed as internationalization has become Fatah’s new political strategy, while Hamas is seeking to express a moderate face in order to be part of the Islamist democratic momentum and not compromise regional ideological sister parties in the region. Today there is enormous distrust felt by Palestinians toward an unelected, unaccountable West Bank PA-PLO leadership that takes crucial national decisions in their name. To cure such distrust, proportional representative elections for the PNC will be essential medicine. Fully proportional elections implies that the Palestinian people elect their supreme authority, the Palestinian National Council, to be composed of a number of seats proportional to the number of Palestinians living in the various countries which constitute the electoral districts. For a political leadership wanting to liberate Palestine, the practicalities of arranging such PNC elections are not insurmountable as long as the fundamental condition for having such elections is present; the political will. It is a paradox that the largest threat to Palestinian democratization today is from Western countries that do not want to deal with a Palestinian leadership which includes Hamas.
The Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) conducts research on the conditions for peaceful relations between states, groups and people.