Democratizing the PLO

Policy brief

Tuastad, Dag Henrik (2012) Democratizing the PLO, PRIO Policy Brief, 3. Oslo: PRIO.

While the PLO has been recognized both by the international community and by Israel as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, the organization remains undemocratic. Its leadership is not elected. The PLO represents the secular resistance groups of the past, not the political reality of today. In 2011, however, an agreement was reached between the main Palestinian political groups to hold elections for the PLO. It is planned that these elections will include all Palestinians, regardless of their location, in accordance with the principle of fully proportional representation. Recent Arab uprisings for democracy make regional conditions favourable for the holding of such elections. Meanwhile, Western governments fear that the PLO could come to be dominated by Islamists who do not recognize the State of Israel. In the past, such considerations have discouraged the PLO from opening up for democratic reforms. However, the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt has acted as a warning to PLO leaders that sustaining an undemocratic and secular PLO could hit back with a vengeance.

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