Palestinians from Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria have become the first registered voters to the Palestinian National Council (PNC), the highest legislative body of the PLO. Trained volunteers from the camp registered Palestinians of voting age, enfranchising them to choose their representatives at any forthcoming PNC elections.
This unprecedented event in Palestinian political history also marks the 44th Anniversary of the Battle of Karameh, which symbolized the stand taken by young Palestinians for the entirety of their people. The start of registration in Yarmouk also initiates the popular reactivation of the PLO, the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
Palestinian parties have arrived at a consensus over the PNC elections in the Prisoners Document (2006) and the Cairo National Reconciliation Agreements (2010, 2011, and 2012). Furthermore, prominent leaders from the major Palestinian parties and political forces have issued the National Call for Registration (2012). This document called upon Palestinians to participate in a civic campaign that carries out registration “in Palestinian embassies, organisations, and clubs in all the countries and locations in which our people live.” This call for registration was issued after years of campaigning and organising in Palestinian communities worldwide, demanding the right to vote in accordance with the basic laws of the PLO.
Registration was made possible through the creation of a voter register mechanism allowing Palestinian communities throughout the world to run their own civic drives. The simplicity of the mechanism allows for the enfranchisement of Palestinians, even in the most challenging conditions, overcoming geographic and logistical constraints through a secure internet system.
In a statement released today, the Popular Campaign for Registration to the PNC Elections in Yarmouk Camp emphasised the need for representation and unity: “Here we are, on the anniversary of Karameh, taking the first step on the march of Palestinian political representation. We announce the registration, here in steadfast Yarmouk camp, of the first eligible voters outside of Palestine to the PNC elections. We call upon our people in the occupied homeland and all other countries to take the initiative and to push the registration process forward in all locations, overcoming barriers and obstacles towards the birth of a new Palestine National Council: elected, inclusive, and capable of unifying the national will towards the long awaited goals of liberation and return.”
One of the registrants, Osama Mousa from Yarmouk refugee camp and a refugee from the Safad district in Palestine states: “We are accustomed to rejecting despair and grew up on the idea of hope. That is why we should demand our right and bring back our unifying national institution so that it can represent Palestinian refugees across the world. This body, which possesses sole legitimacy, must reflect our voices and we shall not seize trying to reclaim it. For we have a duty to do so, and this is something that has been urgently needed for more than twenty years. This urgency increases daily, and it is extremely important that we have genuine representation for Palestinian refugees all over the world.”
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