In 2002 the Palestinian Authority suffered its until then darkest moment. Two years into the al-Aqsa Intifada, the second Palestinian uprising, the Israeli army reoccupied the Palestinian cities in the West Bank, rampaging its public institutions.
In the same year as the Palestinian Authority was stripped of its pretence of power, in a much less noted event, a group of prominent Palestinian public figures launched a new political initiative. Claiming to be “a response to popular demands from men and women calling for increased participation by Palestinian citizens”, the Palestinian National Initiative - or al-Mubadara - was launched to “become the means for the development of a wide-scale national democratic movement” Critiquing the undemocratic conduct of the PA leadership al-Mubadara presented democracy as an urgent national issue, aiming to promote Palestinian liberation through democratizing Palestinian institutions and promoting civil resistance.
Leading a democratic “third current” in Palestinian politics to face the two competing powers Hamas and Fateh has been a central ambition for al-Mubadara. This thesis explores the role of al-Mubadara as an effort to establish a third force in Palestinian politics towards the end of the second intifada. It seeks to map out factors which have affected on al-Mubadara in its effort to mobilize such a third force. An analytical framework for this purpose draws on literature on social movements, approaching al-Mubadara by looking into their political opportunity structures, mobilizing structures and framing processes.
It is found that al-Mubadara has played a notable yet limited role towards the end of the second intifada. Al-Mubadara has not been able to create a structure to supersede the existing left leaning, secular and democratic forces in the occupied Palestinian territories. Neither has al-Mubadara been able to remobilize any major constituency for civil resistance and political activism. The emergence and challenges of al-Mubadara is related to reform and electoral openings, militarization and resistance against the separation Wall. Trying to combine movement and party structures, the legacy of demobilization in the 1990s and the function of professionalized NGOs, in addition to problems of socio-economic circumstances and clientelist structures have impacted negatively on al-Mubadara fortunes in establishing a third political force. So have the fight for the meaning of representing a third political current and a blurred image as the champions of democracy.