Is the Palestinian Political and Popular struggle futile?

Sometime ago, any Palestinian organization that did not support the armed struggle in its program was viewed with suspicion, since the gun, and the gun only, is the only way to liberate Palestine. In those days, this theory was agreed upon even among those unable to practice armed struggle. Today, many Palestinians realize-publicly or deeply inside-that the Palestinian popular struggle (with all its variations) is the name at this stage, because it comes in light of a clear shift in the strategic balance of power in favour of the Zionist state and its allies. Indeed, the popular struggle is gathering momentum in draining Israel politically, morally and in the media where it draws world condemnation of its continued occupation of Palestinian lands. Its use of excessive force against defenseless Arab civilians and its violent and bloody reactions make it face strong denunciations on the international arena.

There are facts and gains established by the Palestinian people’s peaceful struggle that cannot be ignored, although their final results are still dependent on the realization of how the Palestinian nationalist forces utilize them. Perhaps the most prominent of these facts/gains is that the Palestinian issue, despite all the obstacles, is alive in the hearts and minds of the Palestinians and many Arabs, Muslems as well as westerners, in addition to the return of the once ‘marginalized’ Palestinian issue to the top of the regional and international agenda. This has been recently manifested in many UN resolutions, the latest of which will not be the ‘bitter victory’ that halted the American-Israeli decision to classify the Islamist Hamas as a terrorist organization. Then, only 24 hours later, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted clear and important resolutions in favor of Palestine regarding Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian lands, the illegality of the Jewish colonies ‘settlements’ in these lands, the application of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949 in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and other Arab occupied territories. These resolutions were also related to the adoption of the work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting Palestinian Human Rights and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, the property and revenues of Palestinian refugees, the operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the 1967 displaced Palestinians and assistance to Palestinian refugees.

Those who see no other form of struggle and insist that armed resistance is the only way of struggle since international resolutions have no value because many of them have not been achieved/ implemented, the fact remains that international resolutions have an important impact as noted also by Israeli writers. “We have long understood that the United Nations will not bring us any salvation”, wrote Israeli author Lilac Sigan. She added “the farewell gift from the United States ambassador to the United Nations, Nicky Healy, was supposed to be a vehement denunciation of Hamas. It seemed self-evident that the United Nations will condemn the terrorist organization, but it turned out that it didn’t.” She went on to say: “a few years ago, all Israel has been doing is to occasionally complain of the problem (of UN voting). Along the same line, the israeli journalist Shlomo Shamir said: “Israel’s failure to condemn Hamas is disappointing, even though the condemnation would not have led to a change in international relations with Hamas … This should not lead to more nervousness and anger about the result of the vote, because this United Nations is anti-Israel, will remain so, and will not change. The organization was and will remain an arena against us, and does not agree with the US administration today.” In further comments on the UN vote, Israel’s Hebrew Channel 10 said “US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and US special envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, considered failure to pass the resolution at the United Nations a disgraceful act.” Nevertheless, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saw that the number of countries that voted against Hamas in the United Nations (87 countries) reflected “a very important success for the United States and Israel, although the draft resolution was not adopted”.

Yes, there is no doubt that the United Nations resolutions on the question of Palestine appear as one of the heaviest weapon in the hands of the Palestinians today.  With the strategic imbalance of power in the region, the armed struggle is no longer the only weapon at present or the most predominant path for the Palestinians to follow. Indeed, the extremism of the rightest active political leaders in Israel, together with its aggressive separation and apartheid views and practices, requires the active political community in Palestine, the Arab and Islamic world, and even around the world, to be aware that what Israel is doing now completely closes the way to the “historic political settlement”. In fact, such views and practices open the door to a renewed Palestinian/ Arab national liberation struggle, perhaps a religious one, which requires all of us to abide by the two golden rules: “Make ready for them all you can of power” without abandoning the other wing of the struggle: the political, media power, diplomatic and popular struggle.