Chronicle of the Middle East and North Africa

On the Available Options for the Palestinian Leadership

Palestinian Leadership
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during the 74th Session of the General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York on September 26, 2019. TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP

Majed Kayali

A long time has passed since the negotiation and settlement option has become unattainable. The two-state solution reached a dead end due to Israel‘s evasion of its entitlements in the Oslo Accords (1993), rejection to carry out the requirements of the settlement process, persistence on continuing with settling practices, Judaizing and altering the occupied territories features.

All of this happened while the United States was eluding its position as a genuine sponsor of this process, especially since it didn’t force Israel to comply with its entitlements.

Any discussion about armed struggle, or even the possibility of a third intifada, similar to the second armed intifada, does not involve any responsibility. That is because such talk is based on fantasies and illusions, coming from enthusiastic slogans that do not consider capabilities, reality, or the prevailing international and regional facts, especially with this state and societal ruin in the Arab Mashreq, such a choice may backfire. In other words, it serves Israel and facilitates its settlement practices, land confiscation, changing the demographics, especially in Jerusalem, and imposing restrictions on the Palestinians.

Given all this, the Palestinian leadership has three options on three dimensions. First, it may refer the Palestinian cause to the UN and its associated bodies to hold them accountable regarding its resolutions. That means that the Palestinians do not need negotiations with Israel, except concerning partial or procedural aspects. Regarding self-determination, the right to establish a state in the occupied territories (1967), including East Jerusalem, and ending settlements and occupation, there are already explicit resolutions about these issues, even from the UN Security Council.

Of course, it is very naive to think an international organisation will solve a seven-decade cause like this with a magical wand. The essence of referring the file to the UN is to save the Palestinian leadership from getting swept into the absurd play that is negotiations, ease the foreign pressure, and place Israel in a confrontation with the whole world and its international resolutions. The Palestinian leadership, more specifically, should refer the Palestinian question and negotiations to the United Nations hands.

Second, the Palestinian leadership has to resolve its stance on rebuilding the Palestinian house, particularly the political entities like the PLO, the Palestinian Authority, and the factions. That process should rely on new foundations that restore effectiveness, vitality, and credibility. As a result of its transformation into an authority under occupation, the Palestinian cause is a national liberation movement that has dulled and lost its struggling spirit. Therefore, that is the option available to the Palestinians today since negotiation and armed struggle failed. This option was set aside due to eroding the legitimacy of the Palestinian entities’ and marginalising the PLO.

Even though this circumstance weakened the Palestinian entities and widened the gap between them and the Palestinians, wherever they are, it also weakened the Palestinian leadership in Arab and international spheres.

The third option is based on restoring the Palestinian national movement to its essence as a national liberation movement, which requires ending any security coordination with the occupation and finding alternatives to rid itself of the economic reliance on Israel and reducing dependence on foreign resources.

That includes changing the authority’s functions so that its concern is focused on serving its people, managing its affairs, and strengthening its resilience. It also requires embracing forms of the Palestinians’ popular struggle in the occupied territories against settlement, land confiscation, building the separation wall, and Judaizing Jerusalem. It is impossible to pressure Israel and the Israelis as long as a comfortable and profitable occupation exists.

Naturally, this also requires reconsidering the Palestinian narrative founded on the Nakba and the refugee crisis caused by the establishment of Israel as a colonial, racist and ideological state. It requires developing a political vision that mobilises the Palestinian people and asserts their identity and feelings through restoring the unity between the Palestinian cause, the people of Palestine, and the Palestinian geography, especially since Israel itself is fighting over all of Palestine.

Unfortunately, the Palestinian leadership does not have options or opportunities, given the international, territorial and Arab current information. That is the dilemma of the Palestinian leadership that limited itself to the sole option of negotiations. This leadership turned into an authority even before ending the occupation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.


The opinions expressed in this publication are those of our bloggers. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Fanack or its Board of Editors.

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