Some good advice for new Palestinian state

July 13, 1999

Here is an excerpt of an editorial from the Boston Globe, which was published yesterday.

Strengthening Palestinian Institutions," a task force report sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, comes at an opportune time, offering Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority politely worded criticisms and recommendations that deserve to be heeded.

With a new Israeli government under Ehud Barak preparing for final-status negotiations that will probably lead to a state for Palestinians, there is a crying need to evaluate the "shortcomings" of Mr. Arafat's administration. The report outlines the reforms that must be made if Palestinian independence is to improve the lives of Palestinians, enhance regional security and assure international donors that their money is well spent.

The report acknowledges that during the interim period mandated by the 1993 Oslo accords, the Palestinian Authority has had to contend with difficult conditions. It has "lacked undisputed control over key resources such as land, water, and contiguous territory, exclusive jurisdiction of its legal and administrative systems over its population, and unfettered access to external markets."

Nevertheless, the Palestinian Authority has a long way to go to achieve the "good governance" the task force identifies as the indispensable foundation for fruitful independence.

The building blocks of good governance that the report commends to Mr. Arafat's regime are: constitutional government, political accountability and judicial review, accountable management of revenues, rule of law and citizens' rights, democratic participatory politics and pluralist civic society and effective and responsive public administration.

This is a full plate of reforms. They are desired not only by well-meaning dignitaries from abroad, but also by Palestinians. Indeed, the Palestinian specialists who wrote the report were more critical of Mr. Arafat's failings than were the foreign notables on the task force.

They and their compatriots want and need decentralized power and honest administration -- a state molded for the age of the Internet, not for the caprices of a revolutionary or a village chieftain.

Pub Date: 7/13/99

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