The following article was written for the news agency Common Grounds and distributed widely throughout the world and the Middle East in many languages. This article briefly summarizes our work with the Build Palestine Initiative and serves as an open letter to the Palestinian leadership. Here’s a link for the article in Arabic
6th convention Fateh’s and the building of a nation
20 August 2009
SAN DIEGO – After its long-awaited Sixth Convention, Fateh has inched a bit closer toward building the institutions needed to establish an independent Palestinian state. In spite of the power jockeying, participants renewed their commitment to a two-state solution, and the voices calling for resistance through economic development outnumbered those wishing to keep the status quo. Fateh’s challenge now is to create a platform with new goals and a new interpretation of its charter, in order to become a movement that represents all Palestinians. In a true gesture of reconciliation, Fateh should extend an olive branch to Hamas and invite the movement to join in creating a new national platform.
It remains to be seen how effective the election of a younger generation of Fateh members will be in establishing a new national agenda, but the only way forward for Fateh is to boldly assume the responsibility for creating a developmental roadmap that will prepare all Palestinians to negotiate a two-state solution from a position of strength.
The idea of a development roadmap was born based on the Center for Human Emergence in the Middle East’s work with third and fourth generation Fateh members over the last five years. We approached the problem using an innovative socio-political framework, such as the one that helped South Africa transition from apartheid.
First and foremost, our research pointed to the enormous asymmetry in societal capacities between Israelis and Palestinians. This has been a principal cause for the failure of previously-attempted peace treaties. The Palestinians simply did not have the capacity to self-govern or to develop a unified vision of a future state. Internal clashes generated by extremists on both sides have also continued to fuel the conflict.
Our work focused on guiding third and fourth generation Fateh members in creating a distinctly different party — transitioning from one that was out of touch with the Palestinian people, to a party that will lead the entire nation in a state-building effort. Because we understood the significance of the Sixth Convention, we designed a pre-congress conference for 700 members of Fateh, which took place in February 2008. This conference provided a unique forum for Fateh members to debate the future of the party and send recommendations to their leaders. Our focus was not merely on the success of Fateh, but on the viability of a future Palestinian state, which should be President Abbas’ focus as well.
To shift the focus away from both intra-party fighting and the defeat of Hamas, we created a platform whereby members offered their best visions and frameworks for building a Palestinian state — a country designed by its own people, for its own people. It turned out that professional women and young party members in their twenties offered some of the best suggestions for nation-building. They were most aware of the important issues affecting their people.
In order for Fateh to guide the emergence of a Palestinian state, the participants presented a number of pragmatic recommendations most of which could be initiated despite the restrictions imposed by the Israeli occupation. These include: accountability from all public officials; the ending of corrupt practices among government bureaucracies; the establishment of world-class educational and healthcare systems; development of the agricultural and industrial sectors; the creation of an IT sector, whereby young people could find gainful employment; and the instituting of a broad spectrum of socio-economic programmes essential to a thriving state.
Based upon the results of our pre-conference event — and the challenges that the outcome of the Sixth Convention present — President Abbas should immediately hold a “nation-design conference” that would call on the brightest minds in Palestine and throughout the world to create a developmental roadmap for Palestine. This would be informed by the needs and aspirations of all Palestinians, and would put forth a vision of a thriving region. It would honour the past while building the infrastructure necessary for the younger generation to emerge socio-economically and overcome the region’s historic conflict. For moderates in Israel, a plan such as this would provide the assurance they need to enter into a partnership of mutual peace and prosperity, while quelling Hamas’ and Likud’s extremist positions.
* Elza S. Maalouf is an Arab-American futurist and cultural development specialist focusing her work on societal, business and political reform in the Arab world. She is the CEO and co-founder of the Center for Human Emergence Middle East, a research and strategic design centre that uses the emerging science of value-systems to address various challenges in the region. This article was written for the Common Ground News Service (CGNews).
Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 20 August 2009,