Aug 27 2014

To Accomplish Liberation, Palestinian Unity Must Be Preserved

Published by at 2:06 pm under Articles,Palestinian politics


By Daoud Kuttab

It was no coincidence that the announcement of the permanent ceasefire agreement was be made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at his Ramallah headquarters. While Abbas may have been battered in social media and in activists’ circles, it is clear that, in real terms, he emerged as a key player. Hamas’ enmity towards Egypt and Israel, the two countries neighbouring Gaza, played into Abbas’ hands. Sending a united delegation to the indirect peace talks headed by a Fateh leader cemented this newfound unity. It was ironic that the two men who negotiated for a long time the Fateh-Hamasagreement would be the leaders of the talks in Cairo. Fateh lead negotiator Azzam Al Ahmad and deputy head of Hamas politburo Musa Abu Marzouk worked together in Cairo and stayed together despite continuous Israeli attempts to sow rumours of major differences. However, that does not necessarily translate into the survival of Palestinian unity. The fact that the unity government was sworn in one month before the war on Gaza will certainly provide an agreed to vehicle for the activities that will follow. But the key to the success of the newly found Palestinian unity in Gaza will be Hamas’ reaction to any attempts to flex the executive muscles of the unity government headed by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. Despite calls from different sources in Gaza and among PLO leaders, neither Abbas nor Hamdallah have stepped foot in the beleaguered Gaza Strip. Abbas has avoided Gaza for over seven years after an attempt on his life was 2007. A visit by the new Palestinian health minister to Gaza during the war was not very well received. Angry Gazans did not welcome him, and that cold reception probably caused Abbas and Hamdallah to have cold feet. But avoiding Gaza cannot be accepted after the permanent ceasefire. The Hamdallah Cabinet should hold its weekly session in Gaza in order to show Gazans that it is serious about unity. One of the major problems of the PLO-Hamas unity agreement was the fact that it avoided dealing with the issue of fighters and security personnel. The war on Gaza certainly justified the presence of a large number of war soldiers, but the question that needs to be answered is what happens to these thousands of young fighters when there is no war. It will be argued that what Israel has failed to do should not be accomplished by fellow Palestinians. Therefore, there will be no desire to talk about decommissioning the various group fighters. The trick, then, will be to find a way to prevent these fighters from intervening in the normal workings of the Palestinian government in Gaza. The reconstruction effort will require agreement on priorities and will witness the distribution of large sums of money for various basic needs. The success of this process and the acceptance by the general public that it is being done based on accepted and fair criteria will go a long way in giving the unity government the legitimacy it will need to carry out the tremendous efforts that are needed in Gaza. But policies in Gaza will not succeed if the larger political issues that have contributed to the current crisis are not met. Irrespective of what happens during the talks, one month from now, about airport and seaport, Palestinian leaders must not allow the return of the apathetic policies towards fellow Palestinians. Seven years of a cruel and inhuman siege has taken place in part because of the continuation of the split among Palestinians. This split has made Gaza second fiddle to the talks with Israel. That has allowed Israel to continue its siege while spinning its wheel in fruitless talks about a permanent solution of the Palestinian Israeli public. The war on Gaza and the success of Palestinian unity should be an impetus to a revisit the Palestinian liberation goals, strategies and tactics. A united front is certainly a plus for the Palestinian efforts, but its success hinges on agreement on goals, priorities and a realistic action plan to accomplish the aspiration of the Palestinian people. The unified Palestinian delegation to Cairo could negotiate the ceasefire agreement because the negotiators had the support of an active resistance movement. Whether Palestinians choose violent, or non-violent resistance, or a combination of the two, it has been proved that talks without support from a resisting population accomplish nothing. Palestinians must agree on the goals, the methods of accomplishing them and a willing public. This is the only way strategies will produce the desired goals for the Palestinian

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