- Documents on Democracy
Israel/West Bank and Gaza
On September 13, Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO chairman Yassir Arafat signed a historic peace accord committing the parties to a set of principles that includes the establishment of an elected Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Excerpts from this agreement appear below:
The aim of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations within the current Middle East peace process is among other things to establish a Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority, the elected Council (the "Council") for the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, for a transitional period not exceeding five years, leading to a permanent settlement based on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. . . .
Article III. Elections
1. In order that the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip may govern themselves according to democratic principles, direct, free, and general political elections will be held for the Council under agreed supervision and international observation, while the Palestinian police will insure public order.
2. An agreement will be concluded on the exact mode and conditions of the elections in accordance with the protocol attached as Annex I, with the goal of holding the elections not later than nine months after the entry into force of this Declaration of Principles.
3. These elections will constitute a significant interim preparatory step toward the realization of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and their just requirements . . . .
Annex L Protocol on the Mode and Conditions of Elections
. . . the election agreement should cover, among other things, the following issues:
a. the system of elections
b. the mode of the agreed supervision and international observation and their personal composition, and [End Page 151]
c. rules and regulations regarding the election campaign, including agreed arrangements for the organizing of mass media, and the possibility of licensing a broadcasting and TV station.
In Havana on September 8, the Conference of Cuban Catholic Bishops issued a message to the nation entitled "There is Nothing Love Cannot Face." The document, which calls upon all Cubans both inside and outside the country to engage in a "free dialogue," is excerpted below:
It is we Cubans who have to resolve the problems among ourselves, inside Cuba. It is we who must seriously ask ourselves, Why are there so many Cubans who want to go, who leave the country, who give up their nationality, who adopt a foreign nationality? . . .
Nobody can close his heart or his eyes to our country's current situation, painfully recognizing that Cuba is in need. Things are not going well: this is an issue discussed on the streets which directly affects the people. There is dissatisfaction, uncertainty, desperation among the people at large. The official speeches, appearances in the mass media, newspaper articles mention something, but the situation worsens quickly and progressively and it seems that the only solution available is resistance, without there being any hint of how long this resistance will have to last.
Thirty-four years is a long enough lapse for historical perspective to be taken rather than a mere glimpse at trends. It is sufficient time for us to take stock of the history of a process which started full of promises and ideals. Some of them were achieved, but as happens so often, reality does not always meet up with our original idea since it is not always possible to adapt it to our dreams.
On the economic front, the material and basic necessities have reached a point of extreme gravity . . . . The gravity of the economic situation in Cuba also has political ramifications since the political and the economic are inextricably linked.
It seems to us that . . . some irritating policies which affect daily life in the country should be eradicated. This would bring about undeniable relief and a source of hope to the national soul:
• The exclusive and omnipresent character of the official ideology which includes the identification of twin terms which do not necessarily mean the same (e.g., Motherland and socialism, state and government, authority and power, legality and morality, Cuban and revolutionary). . . .
• The restrictions imposed, not only on the practice of certain liberties, which might be admissible...