Palestinians will soon join the Arab Spring club

Very few have paid enough attention to the momentum-gaining peaceful protests which have been organized by seemingly 'non-aligned' Palestinians

Raed Omari

Published: Updated:

It appears that the desperate Palestinians are on their way to officially join the Arab Spring club. This is the gist in brief.

Very few have paid enough attention to the momentum-gaining peaceful protests which have been organized by seemingly “non-aligned” Palestinians in the West Bank, remarkably mimicking the demonstrations that swept through Tunisia and Egypt though still in lesser degree.

What is of unmistakable resemblance to the Arab Spring uprisings is that those peaceful rallies have been staged by young Palestinians who, if not members of the two major Palestinian political fractions Fateh and Hamas, are neither die-hard supporters of them – more maybe allied with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Young activists were also the driving force behind the Arab Spring uprisings in Tunis, Egypt and Yemen.

Remarkably enough, those Palestinian angry youths found support from Israeli activists in part probably due to the “alluring” and “romantic” aspect of the Arab Spring peaceful protests.

Massive protests

The massive and pressing Palestinian gathering of hundreds of Palestinians to reestablish the village of Ein Hijleh in the Jordan Valley north of the Dead Sea, the camp others set up at Bab al-Shams near Jerusalem and the weekly march in the Palestinian village of Bil’in can hardly be viewed aside from influence by the Arab Spring-style popular uprisings.

Very few have paid enough attention to the momentum-gaining peaceful protests which have been organized by seemingly “non-aligned” Palestinians in the West Bank

Raed Omari

Like most proportions of the Jordan valley, Ein Hijleh is in Area C, the full Israeli civil and security control of the West Bank according to the 1993 Oslo accords.

So remarkably also is that fact that such peaceful protests, which paved the way for the rise of a Palestinian non-violent resistance, were tolerated by the Israelis for a considerable time before of course being broken up not that violently too.


Also resembling the youth movements of the Arab Spring, including the Egyptian “Tamarod” (meaning “rebellion” in Arabic), the Palestinian youths have also created the Melh al-Ard (“Salt of the Earth”), a newly-established national action campaign comprising young Palestinian activists with the aim of protesting against the Israeli attempts to annex the Jordan Valley.

Members of Melh al-Ard have set up an encampment, they called “Al-Awda” (Arabic for “Return”) near Israel’s “Bisan” checkpoint in the northern Jordan Valley that was also evacuated by Israeli armed forces.

In such manifestations of passive resistance, the Palestinian activists have peacefully managed to dramatize their claim to the land and to object the U.S.-brokered peace talks they fear will be at the expense of their legitimate rights.

Like in many Arab Spring countries, where popular uprisings were led or inspired by young activists or revolutionary heroes such as Wael Ghonim of Egypt, there seems to be a consensus among all the Palestinian young activists on the independent Palestinian politician Mustafa al-Barghouti, co-founder and head of the Palestinian National Initiative, as the leader to their peaceful movement or movements.

Unchanged approach

Aside from his unchanged resistance approach, Barghouti, the Stanford University graduate and the co-founder and head of the Palestinian National Initiative, is also appealing in many ways. He is not a “controversial” Palestinian figure, even like Mahmoud Abbas or Khaled Mashal. The Ramallah doctor and activist, general secretary of the al-Mubadara coalition, has been also engaged in social, humanitarian and even artistic activities in the Palestinian occupied territories.

Now aside from this unmistakable replication of the Arab Spring-style uprising, the point in the whole scene is this: There is a rising Palestinian non-violent resistance that is gaining grounds in the West Bank that will definitely be uneasy to deal with by the “democratic” state of Israel – I mean morally – and embarrassing to its everlasting ally the U.S.

The Palestinians’ troubling relationship with the Israelis have taken the shapes of military resistance, mass uprisings (intifada) and peace negotiations that never brought a lasting solution to the 60-year Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The ongoing U.S.-brokered peace talks are not an exception at all “unless proven otherwise.”

Another deadlock

With unlikelihood of a military resistance or new intifada against Israel, the most likely prospect to a failure or another deadlock to the ongoing peace talks would not be longstanding status quo of “no war, no peace” but a prevalence of the Palestinians’ newly-invented passive resistance.

In other words, if the Fateh-led Palestinian Authority fails again in peace negotiations with Israel, coupled with Hamas’ limited political manoeuvring, let alone military action, the passive resistance is likely to become the Palestinians’ Plan C, to be organized maybe by Barghouti’s Al Mubadara - Palestinian National Initiative.

What if the so far small-scale passive actions here and there transform into a massive popular protests in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, maybe joined by Palestinians from the Israeli military-administered territories, taking the form of an institutionalized Arab Spring uprising?

How would the U.S., which was helpless to its major ally, Hosni Mubarak’s regime in the face of massive popular uprising, react to its ally Israel if the Palestinians replicate the Egyptian revolution?

The answers to such questions are awaiting the outcomes of the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations and the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s framework agreement for Middle East peace.

Raed Omari is a Jordanian journalist, political analyst, parliamentary affairs expert, and commentator on local and regional political affairs. His writing focuses on the Arab Spring, press freedoms, Islamist groups, emerging economies, climate change, natural disasters, agriculture, the environment and social media. He is a writer for The Jordan Times, and contributes to Al Arabiya English. He can be reached via raed_omari1977@yahoo.com, or on Twitter @RaedAlOmari2

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.