Daoud Kuttab writes in Al-Monitor:
Five Palestinian factions and civil society coalitions announced the founding of the Palestinian Democratic Group on Jan. 3, presenting itself as an alternative to Fatah and Hamas. As a potential third stream in Palestinian politics, the new group’s founding document calls for opposition to the peace plan expected to be released by the United States, reconciliation among the Palestinians and concerted action to preserve democratic values and practices.
The new group consists of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), the Palestinian Democratic Union (FIDA) the People’s Party and Al-Mubadara (Palestinian National Initiative). Among the civil society coalitions are the Palestinian Non-governmental Organizations Network (Al Shabkeh), Nationalists against the Split and a number of human rights organizations and others.
Zahira Kamal, secretary-general of FIDA, told Al-Monitor that Palestinian unity is a major aim of the new coalition. “Our goal is to produce a unified front under the PLO umbrella in order to end attempts by one faction to make all the crucial decisions, such as the latest decision to dissolve the Palestinian Legislative Council.” President Mahmoud Abbas announced in December that the Palestinian Constitutional Court had ruled that the term of the legislature elected in 2006 to a four-year term had long expired and required parliamentary elections within six months. Many analyst believe the court had acted at Abbas’ behest.
Kamal said that although talk of unity among the leftist factions had been ongoing for years, what makes the current coalition unique is its inclusion of groups other than political parties, noting, “We have included in this new body the network of non-governmental organizations, human rights organizations, and independent personalities.”