A ceaseless conflict between the State of Palestine and Israel appears to have no end in sight. Despite international efforts on humanitarian issues, especially for civilians, the Israeli military occupation continues to expand. What’s left are ruins, a growing number of new orphans, and Palestinians who have left everything behind. Their primary concern is now simply to “live to survive.” In addition to this long-standing dispute, from a historical perspective and ethical standpoint, the world is also focused on the efforts of both governments to resolve the conflict. What is the conflict truly about? This examination delves into the internal political system as an endogenous factor and the warfare between Palestine and Israel as an exogenous factor.
The stability of a country depends on a long list of prerequisites, such as economic development, education, social capital, leadership capacity, and people’s engagement in politics, among others. Unfortunately, in Palestine, the basic protection of human rights, which is the foundation for meeting these requirements, is not being met. This complex issue, involving both internal and external networks, has placed Palestine in turmoil, not only geographically but also in terms of the trust of the Palestinian people. Despite this complexity, theoretically, the analysis suggests that the urgent repair of the internal political system is necessary.
Despite being constitutionally established as a democratic country, Palestine finds itself trapped in solidified authoritarianism. The two major political parties, Hamas and Fatah, have been in a long-standing rivalry in political contests. The current President, Mahmoud Abbas, who has been in power for 18 years, postponed the long-scheduled election in 2021. The use of legitimacy to extend the presidential term can be seen as an executive coup and executive aggrandizement (Bermeo, 2016). The assessment focuses on the undemocratic government’s inability to deal with the considerable external factor: the Israeli military occupation.
In addition to physical, mental, and property damages, the unstable political system can potentially worsen the circumstances within Palestine and for its people. Lipset (1959), in his work “Some Social Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development and Political Legitimacy,” provides a reference point for measuring the level of democracy. It suggests that most democratic countries have a substantial degree of social and economic development. Unfortunately, data from various sources (e.g., V-Dem and Freedom House) indicates that Palestinian democracy is constantly backsliding due to both internal and external pressures.
The weakening of the political system and the backsliding of democracy in Palestine are also indicated by electoral authoritarianism. For example, during the municipal elections in the West Bank of Palestine (under Palestinian Authority or Area A and B) in 2021, the elections were dominated by politicians affiliated with President Mahmoud Abbas’ party, Fatah (Lovatt, 2021b).
Further investigations might lead to a deeper understanding of the significant impact from Israel and the extensive damage caused, which is worth assessing to measure the state of democracy and political turmoil in Palestine. This comprehensive analysis and assessment are indeed necessary to address different aspects. Reinforcing internal capacity is expected to be the fundamental basis for building social and economic capital among Palestinians. Although it is challenging to separate the endogenous and exogenous factors when assessing the level of democracy in Palestine, the strengthening of internal capacity remains a crucial step.
Bermeo, N. (2016). On Democratic Backsliding. Journal of Democracy, 27(1), 5–19.
Lipset, S. M. (1959). “Some Social Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development and Political Legitimacy. ”American Political Science Review 53(1): pp. 69-105.
Lovatt, S. H. H. (2021b, March 17). Mapping Palestinian politics. ECFR. https://ecfr.eu/special/mapping_palestinian_politics/
Picture source: https://www.ft.com/content/d3be92ce-e481-11e0-92a3-00144feabdc0