Fatah’s sixth General Assembly has issued several hard-line resolutions in recent days, saying it would not renew peace negotiations with Israel until all Palestinian prisoners are released from Israeli jails, all settlement-building is frozen and the Gaza blockade is lifted. It also vowed to struggle against Israel “until Jerusalem returns to the Palestinians void of settlers and settlements” and pinned the blame for the death of former Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat on Israel.
I might add that the statement on Jerusalem is ambiguous, and some observers think that it refers to both East and West Jerusalem.
What are we to make of this? Several things come to mind:
- It shows the importance in Palestinian politics of always being the most radical. Anyone who appears to be willing to compromise with the hated Zionists loses popularity in a place where 77% of the people think that “the rights and needs of the Palestinian people cannot be taken care of as long as the state of Israel exists”.
- It shows that Fatah doesn’t plan to take the path of negotiation with Israel to bring a Palestinian state into existence — either because they would rather wait for a military confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah, Iran, Syria, Hamas, etc. to weaken Israel enough so that it can be destroyed, or because they think the US will simply hand them a state on their terms.
I think there is a lesson here for the US administration. If there is any substance at all to Barack Obama’s statement that he is “absolutely committed to the security of Israel”, this goal is not served by arming and training the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA) ‘security’ forces in hopes of creating a moderate entity that will be able to resist Hamas and also serve as a nucleus for a peaceful Palestinian state.
And note that the non-Hamas Palestinian movement is definitely moving in the more radical direction. Al-Jazeerah recently interviewed a number of young, educated Palestinians and asked them about the relevance of the PLO today. They came up with statements like this:
I believe our people are fed up with negotiations and compromises and will choose to go back to resistance to ensure no more compromises and to hinder the submissive approach that characterises the PLO right now…
We need people that are politically [socially? — ed] more liberal than Hamas is but who also care about the interest of their people, maybe this will give a push to more independent figures to take the lead.
If Fatah presented a programme that is stronger and takes into account people’s choices maybe they still have a chance. On the other hand, if Hamas came up with better strategies to confront the siege maybe it will also still have a chance.
The PLO should not exclusively utilise political talks, and the political agenda must not threaten our right of resistance.
The PLO in its current form is not relevant to the cause or to the Palestinians. The cause was sold out long ago. I don’t think they even remember what the cause is…
The future is gloomy. I think people have to go back 60 years, remember the Nakba and all that happened and start working all over again.
This one mentions ‘nonviolence’, but the end is still the same:
I believe that we, Palestinians, are still in a liberation phase against the Israeli occupation given the dead end tunnel of political negotiations, sign agreements and the paralysed Palestinian Authority institutions…
The Israeli matrix of control – land annexation, construction of settlements, separation wall, bypass roads, control of borders, etc – create no opportunity for a viable and sovereign Palestinian Authority beyond its physical existence.
The remaining unviable and Israeli controlled 22 per cent of historical Palestine for Palestinians holds no optimism for the future. The annexation of Jordan valley makes land percentage even less.
However, I do also believe that the PLO has to refresh its blood and open its nerves to represent all spectrums of Palestinian factions who I believe should revolve around the PLO’s political agenda in affirmation to right to self-determination and right of return but consider an expansion in the methods of resistance represented in article 10 of the Palestinian National Charter to include non-violent resistance as well.
Reformed PLO should reconsider the 1988 officially endorsed two-state solution which – in my opinion – signals the starting point for the collapse of the Palestinian national project.
I think we are finding out that a two-state solution that would be barely acceptable to both sides is moving farther away every day, if indeed it ever was anything more than wishful thinking on the Israeli side combined with creative ambiguity from the Palestinians. I believe that most Israelis and Palestinians understand this.
I suspect that most of the world’s governments also get it, and unfortunately would be happy to see the Palestinian goals achieved. Just about the only place where the idea of “two [peaceful] states for two peoples” is seen as achievable seems to be the White House.
My suggestion — since there does not appear to be a solution that would make the Palestinian Arabs happy while still maintaining the principle of Jewish self-determination — is that the US should stop trying to impose one.
I would like to see the Obama administration do what it can to reduce the proven threats to peace in the region: the huge missile buildups in Lebanon and Syria, the legitimization of Hamas, and of course the Iranian nuclear threat.