Reform, security, democracy, hunger and the judiciary

The question the Palestinian Authority needs to ask itself (with its executive and legislative bodies) is: Can there be a process of reform, can security be established, and can democracy and freedom be protected without an independent and fair judiciary that has laws that enable it to do this?

Anyone who knows how things work in democratic countries realizes that these countries could not have strengthened their security or transparency in their institutions, and could not have maintained democratic rights and liberties without the presence of an independent and fair judicial body that has the ability, according to law, to hold the unjust accountable, to try the corrupt, to protect the citizen and to respond to the pleas of those who have been wronged regardless of where the injustice occurred or who it is who has rejected the rights of others.

It was not a coincidence that the US capital, Washington DC, was planned with the Supreme Court at the top of the pyramid, overlooking the Capitol, home of the US Congress, which in turns overlooks the White House. The deep meaning behind this is that the judiciary is the highest authority in the society and is capable of protecting liberties and human rights and of holding the executive and legislative authorities accountable if they make mistakes or violate the law, even if this reaches the US President.

The Congress overlooks the White House because the legislative authority is the one that holds the executive authority accountable for its performance and actions, and closely monitors every decision the executive authority makes.

The White House is the executive body that criticizes decisions made by the Congress and the agenda upon which the people elected the President. If there is any deviation the parliament is constantly watching and the arbitrator is always the judiciary.

The Palestinian Authority, however, did not state in its agenda that the judiciary would have priority, and this is a grave mistake. A judiciary capable of applying the law is what will ensure security, fight corruption and apply the law at all levels.

Before the internal crisis within Fateh broke out the Palestinian Authority was preoccupied with the security services, officers’ positions, and who came and who went home; so much so that it did not pay much attention to Israel building a border at Qalandia, annexing the West Bank airport and settlement expansion.

The Palestinian Authority certainly did not deal with the judiciary with the effort it deserves, and did not have it as a priority with importance that exceeds the importance of all other items on the agenda.

The poor, the wronged, and those who have their safety and their properties threatened, have no one to go to in order to find justice, protect them, make their property safe, or stand by their side against injustice by one of the groups of the Palestinian Authority.

If the Palestinian Authority (with its executive and legislative bodies) wanted to create an independent and fair judicial body capable of supervising the operation of the two other bodies it would have done so some time ago. But these bodies found that it was profitable for them to consider themselves the law, to be in charge of decision-making alone, and to transform their decisions to law.

The law is not the tool of the policeman or the official. The law is a tool for organizing and monitoring the work of the policeman and the official. The policeman is the instrument of the law to implement the orders of the judiciary to protect and preserve liberties, democracies and the citizen and his property and bring justice from injustice.

The law is an instrument to monitor the Palestinian Authority and its members and hold them accountable for any illegal action or any deviation from transparency, honesty and justice. Those who ignore these facts and purposely do not give priority to a just, fair and able judiciary will lose in the end because the citizen will have to resort to armed individuals to gain his rights. This will be a catastrophe because the power will go to whoever is carrying a gun and firing at will. This phenomenon will develop into collecting protection money from the citizens on the pretext of protecting them and ensuring their rights.

I do not know if there is anyone at the Palestinian Authority who finds time to read as they are busy splitting up the pie while the people are hungry. As they say, “A hungry man is an angry man”.

The Palestinian Authority undoubtedly knows the percentage of Palestinians under the poverty line. We read the statistics of the specialized Palestinian Authority departments, and read reports by the World Bank and world humanitarian organizations, and see with our own eyes our people’s suffering from poverty and unemployment.

Why then is this issue absent as a priority on the Palestinian Authority’s agenda?

We know that some partial procedures to solve the problems of the unemployed have been taken, but the needed solution is not the patching-up that costs the PA’s treasury a lot without yielding much, but the productive projects, even if they are small or medium, which create job opportunities for production, and not to silence the hunger without any further yield.

Why are development and job creation projects set up by Palestinian and international bodies neglected?

If we ask Dr. Salam Fayyad about the amount of money that is spent on buying cars or putting together teams of bodyguards, we will get an answer that tells us that these funds could have been invested in several productive projects to create job opportunities for the unemployed.

Of course as we do not have an independent and able judiciary, these individuals will not find anyone to go to with their complaints, and they will not in the future find a way to have the Palestinian Authority hear their complaints except through violent methods.

Why are matters left to get to such a tragic state? Why does the Palestinian Authority not take notice of people’s problems unless they resort to violence?