The Arab Summit will convene in Algeria in a few weeks. As is the habit of Arabs, they would like to give things yet another try. I am not trying to anticipate things, but I find it hard to believe the summit will have any outcomes besides the usual well-worded statement. Remarkably, our Algerian brothers decided to invite Palestinian factions ahead of the summit to try and secure an agreement between them. Clearly, the organizers of this meeting in the Algerian Foreign Ministry have missed their history class on the “deadly fratricidal conflict” between Palestinian political factions, or tribes as I like to call them.
They were many to hang onto the Kaaba's curtains a few years ago, with their solemn vow to unite and mend the rift. The vow went down the drain a few days (not even weeks) later.
The Algerian Foreign Ministry may not know that some of them have completely sold the cause before the Wali al-Faqih, and that the commemoration of Qassem Soleimani’s murder became more important in Gaza than commemorating the former and subsequent martyrs of Palestine, and more important than the dozens of Palestinians rotting in prison. Even the mentality in Gaza is on another level of absurdity.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, a Gaza leader said that “COVID-19 has come to kill Israelis, Americans, and Arabs who normalize (with Israel),” claiming that it will not infect the people of Gaza! One can only feel shocked at the unrealistic and absurd reasoning of those who make decisions in Gaza.
The irony is that the Palestinians living in Israel and their (Islamic) leadership reached a “settlement” with those who occupied their land and live with them in harmony, both having the same political affiliation (Muslim Brotherhood). Yet, for the Brothers of Gaza, a settlement with their brothers in the West Bank is out of question. Dozens of meetings brought them together in Cairo, with many statements issued that meant absolutely nothing as their land was being gnawed at by the day and their interests were being scattered in the wind. One-upmanship is the main characteristic of Palestinian factions, and it has caused many missed opportunities and tragedies for the Palestinian people. However, no one seems to have learned the lesson, neither from friends nor from foes.
On the enemy front, multiracial as it may be, and despite the diverse backgrounds that make up its social fabric with influences from various cultures and societies, the objective is one: a political framework governed by a set of semi-strict rules they call “democracy” that would help them reach what they believe to be their public right. Despite having alliances with various forces in various countries and at various times, the compass of those alliances always points in the direction of their best interests. And if ever these interests of theirs differ from their allies’, the preference is always for the former.
On the other hand, with all the fragmentation marking the Palestinian scene, some parties to the Palestinian conflict are entirely affiliated to foreign powers, for reasons mostly related to the interests of their leaders, not the cause. Democracy has no place. You cannot raise your voice against Hamas in Gaza, nor can you voice your dissent in the West Bank. Some of these leaders have not changed for half a decade. Therefore, there is no need to wait: it is already easy to tell that any agreements reached on paper will eventually go with the wind. Old habits die hard!
I also could not overlook the possibility that the Algerian brothers’ call to Palestinian factions had more to do with the local Algerian agenda than with the Palestinian cause. The conflict between Algeria and Morocco is no secret to anyone, and the latter deepened the rift when it established diplomatic ties with Israel. It is easy to connect the dots.
Certainly, some leaders on the Palestinian side know this well, just as they know that reconciliation between the factions has become almost impossible after so many failed attempts. They still went to Algeria, though, if only to shield themselves from any blame for not trying (even if they know this never works and only leads to a dead end).
Once again, the Palestinian cause is being manipulated by personal interests that are as far as can be from the primary objective. If Palestinians were to act with good intentions and determination and let democracy pump new blood in their leadership and allow freedom of speech and organization, they would surely manage to find capable people who can lead by example and attend to their worthy cause with a serious approach and an understanding of the changing world around them, instead of relying on divisive one-upmanship policies or on other agendas, like the Algerian one most recently.
This article was originally published in, and translated from, Lebanese news outlet Annahar al-Arabi.