A little hope was reignited lately because US President Donald Trump decided to assign his son-in-law Jared Kushner to manage the Palestinian-Israeli struggle file. However, so far, it resembles a mirage for the thirsty. There will be no solution if there is no change on the ground.
First of all what is needed here is Palestinian unity to prevent detractors from exploiting the peace project and using it as a ball to throw into each other’s courts. Whenever there is consensus among Palestinians, there will be an Arab stance that supports it.
This does not mean that an Arab-Palestinian agreement is enough for mediators to market solutions that have become impossible today. A little realism is necessary for success. Truth be told, any proposed solution will revive the cause, which seems to have lost its brain functions.
Will it be two different states or one hybrid state? A federalism affiliated with Jordan or a confederation made up of three states – Israel, Palestine’s West Bank and Palestine’s Gaza? Will it be a state with one central system or several systems? What matters is any solution that ends the Palestinians’ tragedy which is the longest in modern history.
Israel is very happy with this forgetfulness and delay in addressing the Palestinian cause. It is happy with the dispute between Gaza and the West Bank and with their preoccupation in little details. This way, time passes by and Israeli settlements expand on the occupied territories. At the same time, Palestinians’ frustration increases as they see the world around them burn in civil wars and realize their cause is now at the end of the list.
Any solution is a solution while a lack thereof serves as a solution to Israel alone. The problem is not just due to Tel Aviv but it is also due to the continuous political failure of the Palestinian command, which is preoccupied with its quixotic disputes. The Palestinian president’s office is currently mostly focused on how to prevent Mohammed Dahlan from running for the presidential elections and how to eliminate him if he tries.
Meanwhile, all the second Palestinian authority in Gaza cares about is how to prevent leaders outside Gaza from competing with it and how to share jurisdictions and the budget with Ramallah’s government without giving up its powers and without engaging in elections that are not supervised by it. Actually, all three rivals do not want Palestinian elections whether in the West Bank, Gaza or Israel as no one wants to lose anything.
What we cannot understand is the Palestinian authority and its partners’ inability to rise above personal disputes and to feel the responsibility required to serve their people’s interestsAbdulrahman al-Rashed
The Palestinians fighting for influence and jurisdictions today will leave tomorrow and will only pass to their people the tragedy, which they inherited from those who preceded them.
Israel does not want anyone to do anything as the current situation suits it. Obstructing the rise of the state, depriving the Palestinian authority from most of its jurisdictions, continuing to loot Palestinian territories and handing them over to Jewish settlers, pulling back developmental projects and resuming the policy of detentions, checkpoints and racial segregation are all means that aim to exert pressure and cancel others so Israel’s state stretches on all of the occupied territories.
The Israeli project today is old and it’s been on since 1967. What we cannot understand is the Palestinian authority and its partners’ inability to rise above personal disputes and to feel the responsibility required to serve their people’s interests. The authority, its partners and disputes are not a good model; therefore, no one in the world will care and offer political help to them. Greater causes with a higher priority, and that are more dangerous on the world’s interests and security, have surfaced.
The relapses of the past failed initiatives also hinder proposing new political projects. The glimmer of hope which President Trump gave cannot be depended on. The problem is not the mediator but the rivals. I think it is highly unlikely that a solution can be reached considering the circumstances the region is passing through.
The problem is also not in lack of ideas as there are many proposals. Someone spoke about placing the West Bank under Jordan’s administration but Jordan rejects this and views it as a project of strife. Others propose that the Palestinian state be limited to the West Bank while placing Gaza under Egypt’s administration. However, Egypt feels the same way as Jordan and prefers a solution that does not involve it in any disputes.
Some propose only developing the Palestinian administration as the current status has been established based on the Oslo Agreement 23 years ago, and what’s new will be expanding the jurisdictions of the administrative authority. It is a model that resembles Iraq’s Kurdistan. Some hope to revive former American President Bill Clinton’s initiative to establish a demilitarized Palestinian state on all of the occupied territories and build a safe passage that links the West Bank with Gaza.
There are many ideas but there’s no serious desire. Israel hints that it does not have to accept any solution and believes the current situation is very comfortable even though it’s tantamount to a time bomb for it. The region’s countries are going through extremely difficult circumstances that drive each government to only want to ensure its own safety. This is why I said Palestinian leaders must end their disputes and try and work together to build confidence that there’s something to rely on.
This article was first published in Asharq Al-Awsat on February 21 2017.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed