Public Administration In Palestine


(West Bank & The Gaza Strip)

Prepared by: Nader Said

Walid Badawi

Edited by: Tawfiq H. AlHallaq

1- Introduction The Arab Spring, revolution movements, specially the civic successful one in Egypt and Tunisia, lead to break the fear and give more information about the silence in the Middle East, the silence is not always sign of satisfaction. These movements were a result of panic years and depress, analysts said. One of Arab spring consequences is that the ex-protests, on March 15, 2011, for ending the division in Palestine Territory between the two territories, West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Consequently the Palestinian leadership in both parties and territories do their best to clear their position to history and end dichotomy. And on May 4, 2011 Fatah and Hamas leaders gathered in Cairo and marked the reconciliation agreement, but the execution is still far away. About nine months later, on February 06, 2012, president Mahmud Abbas, and Khalid Mashal, Hamas chief, agreed on Qatar proposal in which President Abbas assumes the role of prime minister in an interim unity government.

The arrangement proposes re-building Gaza, preparation for and holding general elections quickly, and removing any obstacles that might delay the polls, Palestinian people wait the implementation. As part of the deal, the transitional government is to be composed of experts without strong political affiliations. However, both sides failed to carry out promised goodwill gestures and disagreed sharply over the composition of an interim government. An interim government headed by Abbas could allay some of the West’s concerns about his rapprochement with Hamas, branded a terrorist organization by the US, Europe and Israel. This composed with the announcement from the International Bank that the Palestinian Authority ready and able to establish and declare its independent state. However the main question mark is that how the Palestinian Authority can do that at the freezing point in the Palestine Israel negotiations.

These issues are related more to the political concern but they have a significant effect on the public administration appliances at Palestinian Authority borders. When we step back forward to the near history we will find that:

 From June 14, 2007 till now, May, 2012, the status of Palestinian society is dichotomy between the two territories West Bank and the Gaza Strip (WBG).

 The Israeli occupation practically divides West Bank into 220 isolated, closely-guarded segments. Also it is imposing a complete siege on the Gaza Strip.
From further historical point of view, the 1948 and 1967 wars were two primary turning points that led to fragmentation and fragility. The main

2- outcome is that the Palestinians people became of dispersed over several social formations and communities:

1- About 58% of the Palestinians live outside of historical Palestine.

2- About 42% still live inside which are divided as follow:

A- The population of WBG comprises about 30% of the total population. Two out of five persons in the WBG are refugees.

B- The population of Gaza Strip about 70% of the population is registered refugees with UNRWA. In general, three out of five persons live in urban localities.

In the Gaza Strip, four out of five live in urban areas, compared with two out of five in West Bank. In a broader perspective, the continued occupation of the WBG and the deprivation of its population from basic human rights, such as the right to self determination and the right to development, placed serious constraints on their ability to initiate and implement plans and strategies needed for the construction of basic institutional infrastructures and the achievement of any form of sustainable development. By the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) in 1994, Palestinian society continues to face constraints such as that:

 The WBG is practically under a full-fledged military occupation.

 West Bank land, most of it, is being used for settlement activities and for building roads that lead to these settlements.

 The construction of the Israeli Wall around and inside West Bank is leading to the practical annexation of the land, and the fragmentation of the rest of it.

 Although the Israel occupation was withdrawn from the Gaza Strip in September 2005, it’s still controlling the Gaza Strip through its borders with the Gaza Strip.
All what mentioned above add more and more constraints to the Palestinian issue and to Palestinian Public Administration. Public Administration: A Palestinian Experience The nature of the current Palestinian public sector is highly influenced by the historical conflict between the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Israeli occupation concerning the control of the WBG. The Palestinian experience in the field of public administration has passed through two primary stages: Stage One: from 1964- 1993 Stage Two: from 1994- till now

3- Stage One: A Distant PLO, an Intrusive Military Administration (1967-1994) This stage covers the period from the establishment of the PLO in 1964 through the signing of the Oslo Accord (1993). During this period, the Israeli Military (Civilian Administration) took charge of what might be viewed as a public administration sector. The PLO was established in 1964 as the representative of the Palestinian People in historical Palestine and the Diaspora. The PLO was comprised of a large number of institutions including:

 Political institutions such as the Palestinian National Council – PNC (parliament), the Executive Committee (ministerial cabinet), the Central Council, the Political Department, and PLO diplomatic missions.

 Financial institutions such as the Palestinian National Fund, which is responsible for managing financial resources and dispersing payments to all PLO institutions. The Fund was accountable to the PLO executive Committee; its head was elected by the PNC.

 Public Employment Sector which was represented through Samed – an institution that was responsible for securing jobs for Palestinians through productive activities.

 The Palestinian Liberation Army which was established and approved by Arab regimes in 1964.

 The Palestine Radio (Voice of Palestine) which was established in 1965 in Cairo.

 The PLO Research Center which was established to provide the PLO leadership with needed information and analysis.

 Unions and Popular Syndicates such the unions of Palestinian students, women, and workers.

 Specialized Institutions such as the Department of Refugees and the Department of Culture.
During the years 1967-1994, it was the Israeli military administration that took charge of all institutions in the WBG, including education, health, agriculture, and other public services. The Military administration enacted more than 1264 military orders to ensure its full control of Palestinians. The policies of this administration were hostile to the local population, and therefore resisted, as they aimed at control and expropriation of land and resources.

Under such circumstances, Palestinians residing in the WBG played a major role in resisting occupation and in securing some level of human development. Their experience must be viewed as an important entry point to the understanding of the development experience in the WBG. The formulation of development thought and institutions was primarily in reaction to the imperatives of the occupation. Most institutions were viewed in term of (resistance, steadfastness, and liberation). Unions, political parties, NGOs, and other civil society

4-organizations played a key role in preserving Palestinian society and its ability to persevere. With the establishment of the PNA, this vibrant and strong civil society proved to be an important factor in the process of institution-building. It played a key role in legislation, advocacy, lobbying, monitoring, and awareness-raising. Stage Two: A Disempowered PNA This stage started with the establishment of the PNA after its returning back to the WBG and its resumption of its public administration duties. The legitimacy of the PNA was mainly derived from the political agreements signed with Israel, and the subsequent decisions made by PLO relevant institutions. The PLO provides legitimacy to the establishment of the PNA.

The relationship between the two bodies continues, as most PLO political organs are still active in determining public policy and strategies. The various political agreements among Palestinians and Israelis led to the establishment of the PNA in May, 1994. In 1996, the first general election for the president of the PNA and the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) took place. The main components of the newly– established authority were the following:

 The President’s Office,

 The PLC,

 The ministerial cabinet with its ministries and other agencies, and

 The judicial authority.

The Palestinian public opinion polls showed a majority support of the agreements and the PNA (1993-1997). This support had been falling ever since, adding to the de-legitimization of the PNA among Palestinians. This situation was accompanied with additional challenges during the Intifada (Uprising) which started in September 2000. And Israel continued to systematically destroy PNA institutions leaving them with almost no ability to provide any meaningful security or civil services. At the same time, political agreements that provided legitimacy to the current political and administrative structures were considered invalid by most Palestinians. There are various factors that influence the current states of the public administration in Palestine such as:

1- The PLO experience in institution at building and managing left significant marks on the current public administration system, as most of the leadership of the PLO took charge of PNA institutions. The dominant (administrative and management) practices under the PLO continued to play a paramount role in the PNA. This situation leads to institutional entanglement and conflict. The vague relationship between PNA and PLO institutions hindered the establishment of a proper governance system that is characterized by transparency, separation of powers, and rule of law.

The formal structures of the PNA were sometimes hostage to the informal (structures) of the PLO decision-making mechanisms.

2- The institutional heritage that the Israeli military administration left behind.

3- The conflict, the Israeli practices, the continued occupation, the economic crises, and the growing social problems led to further weakening of public institutions and the growth of informal structures including alternative political groups such as Hamas.

4- The international donor countries and political powers play a vital role in Palestinian public administration. The international pressure on the PNA led to serious steps in the fields of administrative and financial reform.

5- The Quartet (the UN, the United States, the EU, and Russia) is playing an influential role in facilitating the reform efforts in institution building.

In 2006, the second general election for the president of the PNA and the PLC took a place. Hamas won the majority of seats in the PLC at this election. Hamas formulated and led the tenth government in the PNA. The international donors have been suspending their aids, which constituted the majority of the PNA annual budget, to the PNA. The United States and European Union have been considering Hamas as a Palestinian terrorist organization, so they lead the efforts to isolate Hamas as a policy to force it to positively respond to their conditions. Hamas at the same time respond negatively to their condition, and also has rejected the conditions of the International Quartet.

These issues (the elections, suspending the aids, efforts to isolate Hamas) mixed with the weak status of PNA, after a while led to bear the tension between the two dominant factions, Fatah and Hamas, raised and increasingly became bloody and separated out of hand in most cities in the Gaza Strip and ruined with, in June 14, 2007, Hamas militants took over the authority and drove Fatah leadership out of the Gaza Strip. Palestinian Authority President, Mahmud Abbas, denounced the violence as a “Hamas coup” and appointed Salam Fayyad to lead a new government in Ramallah, which has been quickly recognized by the International Quartet, and the international aids returned back to the PNA in West Bank.

Simultaneously, the Gaza Strip has remained under Hamas control, which means that the Gaza Strip and West Bank separated from each other. And the appliances of public administration in PNA also divided for two main appliances; the first one follows the new government, Fayyad Government, in West Bank. And the other one follows the fired government; Hamas Government, in the Gaza Strip All what mention above form a multifaceted state harder than to be figured, and make the reform process is more complex. Moreover this process will receive varied evaluations form all parties concerned.

6- Employment The PNA public sector grew rapidly during the period of 1995-1998. The various data reveal that over 142,000 Palestinians were employed by the PNA (2002). In 1997, 20% of the labor force was employed in the public sector (about 28% in the Gaza and 15% in West Bank). Over 40% were employed in security- related institutions. The majority of the employees describe themselves as Fatah supporters, while the rest were independents, leftists, or affiliate with religious groups. In part, the dramatic increase in employment in the public sector came as a result of:

 The PNA sought to reduce unemployment and poverty rates through public sector employment.

 High unemployment rates resulting from the continuous closure of the Israeli market, and the deterioration of economic conditions.

 The duplication and overlap in the work of governmental institutions.
In terms of quality, the PNA has drawn on three distinct labor pools:

1- PLO institutions,

2- public employees who served under the Egyptian, Jordanian, and Israeli governments, and

3- Those who are working for civil society organizations and private sector in the WBG.
Management of Employment in the Public Sector Generally, employment in the public sector was not done on the basis transparent and professional criteria. And it has the following criteria: 1- The expansion of public sector employment led to an increase in expenditures on current costs at the expense of investment, which in turn increased PNA budget deficit, which covered by grants, donations, and loans. 2- The political nature of state-building and employment practices led to an organizational structure that, in many cases, might be described as (inverted pyramid) where a large number of senior and mid-level management posts were created. 3- The dominant employment patterns had also led to difficulty in devising job descriptions based on a sound management rational.

4- The employment process was highly centralized and non-competitive. The centralization of the employment process is manifested in the creation of the General Personnel Council (Diwan). The Diwan was responsible for all civil sector employment. Employment in the security sector was managed by the Directorate of Organization and Management.7

The Administration System in West Bank and the Gaza Strip The March 2003 amendment to the Basic Law brought about more clarity to the public administration system. Article (69) stated that: “the Ministerial Cabinet has the right to establish or eliminate agencies, institutions, authorities and any other administrative units within the executive branch”. While this amendment was criticized for abandoning the role of the legislature and providing further power to the executive, it was primary in the re-organization of government structure, which is comprised of the following primary elements: 1) The President of the PNA The source of legitimacy for the current PNA is from the PLO. The president of PLO heads the president of the PNA.

The authorities of the president were explained through article (34) which states that: “the president must be directly elected by the general public according the Election Law”. The same article states that: “the President is the higher commander of the security forces”. In the Palestinian case it is restricted to internal security and police forces, as there is no army. The Basic Law provides the president with further authorities including: * The appointment of foreign delegations and the acceptance of foreign diplomatic missions to the PNA, * Sign all legislations, and grant special pardon. * The president is exempt from being accountable to the PLC; in fact, he has equal and parallel powers. The PLC has no authority to remove the president. * The ministerial cabinet is obliged to report to the president and every minister is to provide periodic financial report to him. *

The appointments in the judicial branch are one of the president responsibilities. He appoints the general attorney, district attorneys, and the judges in all courts. In many ways, the judicial system became an organ of the executive. In this sense, the president does not only hold executive power, but also legislative. This combination provides him with the right to veto all decisions made by the PLC. Furthermore, the relationship between the president and the ministers is one of almost full control; they are unable to make any significant decisions without referring back to the president. The concentration of power, of the PNA’s president and the PLO’s president are one person, president Mahmud Abbas, gives the president absolute power. 2) The Prime Minister
The position of the Prime Minister in the PNA authority was introduced recently in 2003. This introduction, while representing widespread sentiments within Palestinian society, it came as a direct result of international pressure on 8

Palestinian leadership, the ex-President Arafat. This new position was introduced mainly for political reasons in an attempt to reduce the authorities and powers of the president, President Arafat. However, the fact that a prime minister was appointed had an impact over the administration of the PNA. The prime minister according to the Basic Law (amended in 2003) has the following tasks:

1) Form a ministerial cabinet, add, or accept the resignation of its members.

2) Call for and reside over the weekly cabinet meetings.

3) Supervise the work of the ministers and heads of government institutions.

4) Introduce regulations within his capacity and according to the law.

5) Appoint a deputy in case of his absence. (Article 68) The appointment of the prime minister did not create any power shift in Palestinian political structure. It also led to limited changes in executive and legislative powers. The president is still the focal point in Palestinian decision making. 3) The Ministerial Cabinet The cabinet is considered the executive branch of the government; it works within the parameters of the legislations created by the PLC (Article 69). Among its tasks are the following:

A- Develop public policies in line with government general policy directions approved by the PLC.

B- Prepare the public budget for PLC approval.

C- Put together an administrative cadre, structure, and hierarchy and provide the staff with the needed resources to implement policies.

D- Supervise the work of all ministries and government institutions and oversee their performance.

E- Establish new institutions and cancel existing ones according to the needs of the community.
The clarification of duties and structures did not resolve the problems related to performance. The various ministries still work as separate units without real coordination. Their work is highly scattered and misguided by personal conflicts and interpretations. The weekly meeting of the cabinet still spends much of its time on political issues relating to the negotiations with Israel and eternal relations. 4) Local Government

The PNA continued to establish a local governance system ever since its establishment. Data shows that the number of local authorities is 521 in the WBG (107municipalities, 11 local councils, 374 village councils or project committees, and 29 refugee camp directors). The number of council members was 3.77929. In many ways the deteriorating power of the central government and its loss of control and resources led to chaotic relations between the local governments and 9 the central authority. The relationship between them became one of confusion and lack of harmony. Strong local councils became somewhat stronger and weak ones became even weaker. The weak performance of the three branches of government led to the weakening of local councils.

In contrast, the weak presence of the PNA in some communities encouraged local participation and initiative, which led to increase the publicity of the other parties especially the Hamas’ party. Among Palestinian policy makers, a consensus seems to exist on the vital role of decentralization. Those are reflected in the literature of the Ministry of Local Government and the various laws including the Basic Law and the Local Councils Law. In reality, local councils remain subordinate to central government bodies. Community participation is restricted to the reception of services and executing decisions made by central government. Local councils also do not receive their share (90%) of local property taxes and licensing fees collected by the Ministry of Finance. The financial crisis is further amplified by the fact that:

1- The majority of residents are unable to pay their dues, mainly as a result of the economic crises and increasing poverty rates.

2- Donor institutions are the most important source of funding for local councils. The donors did not allow local residents to play a primary role in assessing needs and priorities, and in relation to sustaining projects. They did not adequately support the process of building the capabilities of local councils and institutions.

3- The work of donor institutions directed at poverty alleviation is not coordinated or unified to serve one strategy. The focus of most donors was on showing tangible results leading to funding of short term projects that are not sustainable or infrastructure.

4- Absence of a unified legal framework and standards that govern the work of the international agencies complicated the situation.

5- The ability of any local council to function is contingent on the living standards in the area and the level of experience that it accumulated through time.

6- The scope of public participation is generally limited, influenced by the absence of a participatory development vision, and the prevalence of overly centralized, ineffective work methods. The solution for these crises is by enhancing active community participation in local government which requires concerted efforts on all sides including the central government, local councils, civil society organization, and donor institutions.


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