By: George Kurzom
Exclusive to Environment and Development Horizons:
In this article, we will not discuss the political-national dangers behind the local elections held in the West Bank away from Gaza Strip thereby deepening the rift between Gaza and Ramallah, in addition to the fact that some of the main Palestinian parties boycotted these elections. Rather, the candidates’ preoccupation in their electoral propaganda will be discussed, some of which are based on political and municipal slogans with other candidates having announced plans for reform in the past but still fail to implement these policies.
It’s remarkable that the environmental sound in the campaigns is weak. In fact, the environmental space in many electoral programs and advertisements is limited and there isn’t any direct and scientific discussion of sensitive and vital environmental issues affecting the people of many villages, cities and towns. Although some candidates marketed themselves as "Green" or “Environmentalists”, but their influence on senior position holders in the Palestinian Authority or even in the Ministry of Local Government and other relevant ministries is marginal.
In fact, some of the important issues presented at the municipal and village level, that are considered socio-economic priorities, include significant environmental components. Some examples are the housing crisis associated with the development of urban areas, the construction in open areas, the establishment and development of infrastructure for streets and roads to contribute to solving the traffic crisis which pollutes the environment and air; as well as the development of a modern, environmentally friendly public transport network that motivates children, students and youth to use, thus reducing the huge vehicles’ fleet on the streets.
In addition to the problem of noise, air pollution and ways to benefit from energy materials, including the provision of physical and tax incentives (by the municipal and rural councils) to encourage the use of solar electricity or recycling organic waste and other trends that affect the future of the environment and the economy.
A quick review of the candidates’ programs, meetings and discussions organized by some electoral lists indicates the absence of local and national environmental vision, particularly regarding the use of renewable energies and recycling construction waste, as well as the development of a regulatory framework for entrepreneurs in renewable energy. This includes the facilitation of procedures and licenses for the construction of solar installations on the buildings’ roofs, the development of standards and specifications that allow the reuse of recycled construction waste, intensified law enforcement against random waste sites, and the adoption of universally accepted principles such as “Polluter Pays” that should be applied to all those who cause environmental damage within the areas under the responsibility of local authorities.
We believe that the reason behind the absence of an environmental vision and philosophy at the local and municipal levels is due to, among other reasons, the outstanding problem in the electoral activity, namely the dominance of family and tribal interests in many lists of candidates, despite all that was said about professionalism and efficiency. It is evident that the family-tribal dimension in the lists of parties and political forces clearly surpasses efficiency, competence, specialization and professionalism.
Translated by: Ghadeer Kamal Zaineh