Lingering Questions on a Possible Third Palestinian Uprising

Many observers now believe that Palestinians are incapable of mounting another uprising or intifada similar to two others launched over the past two decades. In the past, Palestinians used to rise up against Israel for much less reasons than the injustice being inflicted on them by the brutality of the Israeli colonial occupation .Many observers are now asking: What is the matter with the Palestinians and why don’t they do something? What is preventing them from a third intifada? In answering these questions, observers cite several factors contributing to the deteriorating situation in the occupied Palestinian lands that help weaken the possibility of a new Intifada.  One major factor relates to the policies of the Israeli right wing government based on pursuing steady annexation of Palestinian lands and fattening the colonial settlements in the absence as well as failure of the Palestinian strategy that has been totally dependent on negotiations to attain a sovereign Palestinian state. Moreover, Israel believes that it really needs no ‘peace’ with the Palestinians because its security is being protected and enhanced by deep Palestinian divisions and security coordination with the Palestinian Authority (P.A.). Aiding these factors is the complete paralysis of the international community to confront the Israeli colonial policy in occupied Palestine and the inner raging conflicts in some Arab countries along with the opposition of the Palestinian Authority to any kind of ‘violence’, thus relying fully on the Oslo Agreements. Hamas is also tightening its grip over Gaza Strip preventing any launch of rockets against Israel in order to protect a ‘truce’ reached following the Israeli war on  that area in 2011.

To elaborate further on the situation,, many Arab and non-Arab observers and researchers are convinced that the present circumstances in the West Bank make the Palestinian population unprepared to launch a third intifada especially in the very midst of major Palestinian divisions and inner conflicts between those who advocate armed resistance and others who oppose it.. Another factor being considered by these observers is the so-called ‘prosperity’ of the Palestinian economy benefiting the top few who fear that a third intifada would spell financial ruin to them. When adding the lack of leadership to spearhead such an intifada, the dwindling of Arab financial support to enhance the steadfastness of the Palestinian civil society who has to bear the brunt during the intifada and the deep coma in which the rest of the Palestinian organizations has plunged, one can see how the people have been driven into a state of weakness discouraging any serious contemplation of a new intifada. Moreover, some cynical observers say: the first intifada led to ‘Oslo’ and the second led to the ‘Wall’ in the midst of a land saturated with colonial settlement and separated from Gaza Strip while confronted with a steady Judaization of the land.

 On the other hand, many Israeli observers believe that a third intifada is very possible. Military commander Yaniv Alaluf told Israeli military reservists: “We are not only in the midst of a third intifada, but we are in its apex.” A recent study prepared by Shlomo Brom and published by the Israeli Institute for National Security Studies included that “the impasse and the inaction of the peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis assert that there will not be in the end an independent Palestinian state. And it is very illogical to assume that the Palestinians will remain quiet without an uprising every few years against the Israeli military rule.” The decision by (President) Abbas to go the United Nations was pitiful the study said, “because the Palestinians after high hopes were let down when they discovered that it did not change anything for the better, but made things worse and Abbas shuns the use of violence anyway and will not permit a third intifada because riding a tiger generated by a roaring Palestinian anger will lead for sure to nowhere.”

While many hold the view that a third intifada is not likely to erupt, the famous British writer David Hirst, predicted a more violent flare-up and wrote that “in spite of the extreme frustration being felt by the Palestinians now in view of the very extreme measures taken by the settlers to expand their domain, the third intifada will be far greater and more violent than the other two before. And it is going to be much more painful to the Palestinians because it will be against both, the Palestinian leadership (both Fatah and Hamas) and Israel at the same time.” Hirst came to the view that “may be the opposition of these two parties (Hamas and Fateh) to a third intifada is the very factor that is preventing it till now.”

Popular uprisings against injustice do not usually wait for a permission to be launched. They erupt spontaneously and as political analyst Hani al-Masri put it:” When seems to be a great hope approaching or an overwhelming despair and hopelessness enveloping all, the spark of uprising is lighted.”