The Palestinian Leadership: What Future Direction to Follow?

Prof. As’ad Abdul Rahman

A series of meetings by the PLO leadership in Ramallah have managed to dispel rumors in the news media of a possible split with Hamas. The rumors were apparently instigated by divergent views by the two sides in the wake of Israel’s destructive war on Gaza, in addition to periodic ups and downs in their relations which have led to the impression that Palestinian unity is coming to an end. A vast majority in the meetings voiced hope for the two sides to sit together to settle their differences for good and present a united Palestinian front, as was the case during the Israeli aggression on Gaza.

The meetings created a united vision of great clarity to attain the best possible results. Participants saw that the relationship between Fatah and Hamas should not be aimed to merely gain power to rule. Rule what, when both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are under the brutal colonial occupation of Israel? As a matter of fact, Fatah would be much stronger when it forges partnership with Hamas. When members of the same family are in conflict, the whole household is endangered and entices the colonial Israeli occupation to snatch more Palestinian lands,  while  the Israeli military brutality increases against divided Palestinians, busy fighting amongst themselves. Hence the call by the Palestinian meetings on both movements to work out a final agreement based on a singular Palestinian strategy of one gun, one authority, one struggle and one Palestinian front working to end, for good, the colonial Israeli occupation.

Participants in the meetings were fully aware of the outstanding unresolved issues in the relations between Fatah and Hamas, which is natural given their different ideologies with alliances competing within the Palestinian equation. Such differences should not be left to provoke narrow self-serving battles in the Palestinian arena of struggle.  Waging battles in the media sets back all Palestinian efforts to end the occupation and weakens the Palestinian resistance against the deadly cancerous growth of theIsraeli colonies. Dissolving or weakening the Palestinian unity established during the war on Gaza would keep for good the West Bank under occupation and would lead to the establishment of the so-called Palestinian state in Gaza; the very aim of Israel. This is why, the leadership meetings called upon Fatah and Hamas to quickly finalize their bi-lateral preliminary meetings and discussions in order to convene a broader gathering to include other grassroots Palestinian organizations to forge a connecting bridge between the two movements and render a positive influence to work out one Palestinian strategy to end the occupation using all legitimate means provided to people under occupation by international law.

All the gains attained with huge Palestinian sacrifices during the last Israeli carnage in Gaza would instantly vanish as a result of Palestinian inner fighting and Palestinian unity is the only means to attain liberation from the Israeli colonial occupation.

The PLO meetings declared opposition to any discussions in the peace process on temporary agreements instead of a final agreement ending the occupation. Participants noted that 21 years of empty negotiations did not bring the Palestinian people any closer to independence. On the contrary, Palestinian lands were being stolen by Israel in the open while negotiations were taking place. The negotiations failed to attain the desired two-state solution and were left to stall allowing for the Judaization of all historical Palestine to proceed in the absence of any Palestinian resistance.

The Palestinian march to the UN Security Council came after the United States refused to support the Palestinian proposal to end the Israeli occupation in view of the rabid rate of expansion of Israeli colonies in the West Bank. Bringing down the Israeli separation (apartheid) Wall which is incarcerating the Palestinians in a ghetto  making the West Bank a humongous prison is the very first step towards full liberation in the Palestinian strategy.

There were suggestions in the meetings to reach agreements first with Egypt and Jordan identifying Palestinian border with both countries before drawing the border lines with Israel in a move aimed to strengthen the Palestinian position. But a consensus of views saw the need to establish a united Arab front and gain support of other Muslim countries to pursue the quest to end the occupation. The leadership meetings also voiced support to a news media trend backing Palestinian legitimate rights around the world to go hand in hand with worldwide campaigns to boycott Israel, economically and politically.

Relying on Washington to pressure Israel to see the light is really futile. The present American administration is on its way out and the President, seen as unpopular, has become “a lame duck”, according to American political sources. The only path open for Palestinians is the one that leads to the UN Security Council and to the International Court and to every court that allows filing of cases against Israeli leaders and individuals who committed crimes against humanity. Should Israel act to carry out its threats to dismantle the Palestinian Authority for going to the UN and the World Court, then, be it and let Israel shoulder the responsibility of taking care of the Palestinian people under its colonial occupation. But a word to the wise, none of the above would ever lead to the end of occupation without a united Palestinian front expressing in words and deeds a true Palestinian unity.