The Palestinian Authority president has promised to designate a minimum of seven seats on the next Legislative Council to filled only by Christians.
The number of seats previously held by Christians was six.
With just a few months leading up to legislative and presidential elections, this new quota announced by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday has been received as an attempt to garner more votes.
Christians comprise about 1% of the Palestinian population.
Abbas’ announcement came after the decision to hold legislative elections on May 22 followed by the presidential elections on July 31. Voter registration is at a high of 93%, which may be of concern to the leadership as Palestinians are looking to the elections as a chance to make a change in a political landscape that has become entrenched in the Parliament in Ramallah since 2007.
Some Christians claim no quota is necessary while some claim that it should have been higher.
However, the announcement to ensure that seven seats in the 132-member council go to Christians was received by some as merely an attempt to show coexistence and respect for minority rights even while reports of violence and persecution against Palestinian Christians persist. According to research conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, a significant percentage complained about the lack of religious tolerance. Many Palestinians expressed a lack of confidence in the Palestinian Authority and view it as corrupt.
Hanan Ashrawi said she doesn’t see that Christians are excluded or marginalized.
“They have been extremely active in political, social, cultural and economic life, and many of them would be able to gain seats on merit without the quota,” she said, adding that a quota for women members on the council made sense, “because they were discriminated against and they have historically faced a huge challenge.”
Hanan Ashrawi, a Christian who recently resigned her position on the PLO’s executive committee, told Religion News Service that she is uneasy about reserving seats for specific communities.
Findings also show that Christians, like Muslims, do not trust the Palestinian government or the PA security
services and the justice sector. Indeed, the majority tend to have no trust in the Christian religious leaders or
civil society organizations
Results of a public opinion poll among Palestinian Christians 27 January-23 February 2020
Palestinian Center for POLICY and SURVEY RESEARCH
Abbas has issued many decisions since recently seen as attempts to improve his standing such as the release of prisoners and new protections for freedom of expression and political affiliation.
The Palestinian street is waiting to see whether either the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the Hamas government in Gaza uphold these decisions. Despite the decision, Hamas still has yet to release 84 political detainees, claiming that the charges against the prisoner were criminal and not political in nature.