Options for Palestinians in rapidly changing environment
The transformations taking place in the Arab world has impacted its ability to provide crucial support for the Palestinian people
It is no longer possible to overlook the impact of some significant developments that have pushed the Palestinian cause into a new political environment, which is less advantageous to them and more challenging. These circumstances necessitate a drastic assessment of the performance of the Palestinian political leaders.
The first is the disintegration or collapse of the Arab approach. The second is the radical transformation that has taken place in Israel in recent times. Last, and not the least, is the election of Trump as President of the United States. The transformations taking place in the Arab world has impacted its ability to provide crucial support for the Palestinian people.
Several Arab nations and governments have helped in the Palestinian struggle in the past. The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was founded with the support of revolutionary anti-Israel elements at the time and several Arab countries became the launching pad of Palestinian resistance movement in its early years.
All diplomatic achievements made by the Palestinian were realized with Arab support, starting with Fatah’s relations with China with Algeria’s assistance and ties with ex-Soviet Union which materialized with the support of Egypt.
This was besides the fact that the Arab Leagues represented Palestine in the West during the 1970s and several significant international resolutions were obtained as a result of the key role played by Arab groups.
Undoubtedly, the US, including its current administration, has backed Israel endlessly, shielding it from criticism over its settlement policy and violation of international laws. The election of Trump is likely to create even more harmonious relations.
Netanyahu has also said he expects “warm” relation between Trump and Israel. This also reminds us of the warm relations between Netanyahu and Vladimir Putin, the Russian president for whom Trump has expressed admiration during his campaign.
The prospect of a solution to the occupation through bilateral negotiations with Israel is unlikely in the foreseeable future, which necessitates the look-out for a new political approachGhassam Khatib
As for Israel, it is no longer the same entity PLO started negotiations with 25 years ago. Israel’s socio-economic structure and its demography have changed and become the subject of what has been called by Sami Michael in Yedioth Ahronoth as the “filthy Trinity” of governance corruption, black money and extremist religion.
More than half of the Israel’s cabinet blatantly rejects the two-state solution, John Kerry said at Saban Forum in DC. Uri Safir wrote in Haartez that its top priority is focused on burying the two-state solution by a tsunami of settlements.
Two conclusions can be arrived at based on these transformations. The prospect of a solution to the occupation through bilateral negotiations with Israel is unlikely in the foreseeable future, which necessitates the look-out for a new political approach.
The question that arises is can Palestinian political elites move from words to deeds? The need of the hour is for academics and politicians to understand the changing reality and illustrate it.
Following the election of new Fatah members, Palestinians aspire for elections in the National Council, PLO and the Legislative Council.
It is imperative that political leadership pays more attention to the performance of public institutions and basic services following the remarkable decline in education and health conditions. It should also focus on economic development so that the rate of employment improves and the justice system is enhanced.
On the political level, resumption of negotiations can complement the changed circumstances. Also needed is a strategy in international diplomacy and making international laws and institutions the arena to wrestle with the occupier.
All this should be integrated with diplomacy, which seeks to boycott Israel, tries to get sanctions imposed on Israel and investment in the country withdrawn.
This article can also be read at Al Arabiya.net.
Ghassan Khatib is a Palestinian politician and member of the Palestinian People’s Party. He was a member of the Madrid Peace Delegation in 1991 and was involved in the Washington negotiations from 1991 to 1993. He was appointed the Palestinian National Authority Minister of Labor in 2002 and Planning Minister in 2005-06. He has also served as the Director of the Government Media Centre. Khatib is also the Vice-President of Birzeit University.