Date: 4 April 2021
ICSPR condemns the escalation of hatred and incitement campaigns, and calls on the electoral forces and lists to enhance a discourse that respects the rule of law and protects civil peace.
With great concern and condemnation, the International Commission to Support Palestinians’ Rights (ICSPR) follows the political leaders’ statements, which include escalation of threatening campaigns, the spread of hatred, accusations and bullying, especially during the past few days while the Central Election Committee closes the door to candidacy according to the law, which sometimes reached the level of using weapons and public threats, against the background of internal disputes over candidacy and the ranking of candidates on the electoral list. If this situation continues, it shall endanger civil and societal peace, as that the high rates of incitement, slander and defamation are a proven successful recipe to political violence and infighting.
ICSPR declares again its position in support of freedom of thought, opinion and expression as rights guaranteed under the Palestinian Basic Law and international human rights standards, it renews its rejection of all violations and abuses of insulting and slandering others or inciting and defaming a candidate or a list, these actions go beyond the framework of freedom to a punishable crime by the Penal Code and the Elections Law, which prohibits and criminalizes the incitement of sectarian, gender, race and religion strife. ICSPR stresses the need to hold the Palestinian elections on time, end the division and address its catastrophic repercussions, strengthen the process of democratic transition, renew the legitimacy, re-arrange, activate and unify the institutions of the political system, stop the deterioration in the management of public affairs and contribute to reducing the violation of rights and freedoms, confront the occupation’s obstacles to the electoral process. Therefore:
1. ICSPR calls on the factions, forces, candidates and political leaders to spread the culture of reconciliation, pluralism and tolerance in their statements, including condemning and rejecting the culture of hatred, infighting, intolerance and recrimination, and put an end to incitement, slander and defamation during the election campaign activities.
2. ICSPR calls on the Central Elections Committee and all concerned parties to work to create a suitable environment that guarantees freedom and integrity of elections, on the basis of equal opportunities for all competing parties and lists, and to allow all candidate lists to carry out their electoral campaigns without any obstacles or threats against the background of opinion or promotion of their electoral programs.
3. ICSPR calls for making the upcoming elections an opportunity, in order to renew the current leadership structures and an entry point to end the division, not a tool of fragmentation and chaos, as elections were never the purpose, rather, they are part of a comprehensive democratic reform process that requires the provision of guarantees to make them an entry point for promoting democracy, pluralism, tolerance and political partnership.
4. ICSPR demands the Public Prosecution Office and the judicial authorities to open a serious and transparent investigation into incidents of tampering with the electoral record, shooting and terrorizing citizens, and spreading a culture of hatred, recrimination, bullying, slander and insulting, and holding their perpetrators accountable to ensure judicial accountability for electoral crimes, in a way that enhances the integrity of the elections, the rule of law, and the protection of civil and societal peace.
5. ICSPR renews its calls for all Palestinian categories to work hard to ensure the success of the electoral process in all its stages, up to an agreement to form a government of national unity, regardless of the results of the upcoming elections, in a way that strengthens the ability of the people and the Palestinian system to face internal and external threats and challenges.