Dec 09 2015

Are Palestinians losing interest in the two-state solution?

Published by at 11:22 am under Articles,Palestinian politics

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By Daoud Kuttab

The 8th Forum for Arab Investigative Journalists organised by Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ), concluded this week in Amman with a gala dinner where the winners of the 2015 ARIJ Prize for best investigation in print and video categories were announced.

The second prize in the short-form Film Category went to the Palestinian duo Karim Asakreh and Bassam Elroumi for “Hydro: Death Sentence Covered by Law”. 

For a people and a country under military occupation for almost a half a century one would expect that journalists would be investigating issues related to the Israeli occupation. In past years the reporters have won prizes for investigations related to settlements and the Israeli occupation rather than an internal Palestinian issue like the growing use of a particularly dangerous drug.

The change in direction in Palestine is not coincidental. In talks with a number of young reporters, one gets the feeling that they have largely lost hope in the two-state solution and the peace process, and they have clearly lost hope with the existing leadership, which seems totally out of sync with the aspirations and desires of young Palestinians who constitute the majority of the population.

A reporter with a Ramallah-based radio station explained that most young Palestinians today are more interested in issues of their civil rights than in trying to figure out how to end the complicated and seemingly never ending peace process with Israel. 

This, perhaps, can explain the overwhelming motivation behind the current wave of violent protests, which do not appear to have a clear political direction.

While Palestinians are clearly opposed to the occupation and its various manifestations — including the presence of unwanted, arrogant and violent settlers and constant travel restrictions — they are not clear what they are in favour of. 

According to the radio journalist, there is even a renewed desire for Jordan to have some sort of a role in trying to be part of a solution to the current dead end many see their lives and futures in.

Israeli analysts and reporters are also talking about the folly of the two-state solution. Nahum Barnea recently reported in Yediot Ahranot on the Saban Conference in the United States and mocked Israeli officials as well as Americans for the constant lies and lip service they are giving to the two-state solution.

Such a development on both sides of the conflict not only throws the two-state solution into the deep freezer but it also indicates that there is a real, dangerous threat to the status quo. While the Palestinian security along with the Israelis have succeeded in keeping the boiling pot from exploding, it is a matter of time before something happens within the Palestinian territories that will cause a new, much more powerful eruption. 

In their anger and frustration, Palestinians are not singling out the PLO leadership or Hamas. Both are seen as part of the problem, instead of being part of the solution. The leaders’ selfishness and desire for self-preservation has caused many to wash their hands of both.

A recent attempt by Egypt to provide a Palestinian roadmap, revealed in detail by Hamadeh Faraneh, has run into internal problems within the leadership in Ramallah.

 While most people are focusing on the West Bank, a more likely source of eruption might be the Gaza Strip where the population has been locked up literally for years. In 2015, the only available crossing for Gazans, Rafah, has been closed for 300 days and the year is not over yet.

Palestinians had expected that the sacrifices paid by so many young Palestinians in the past two months would be enough to move the leaders to put aside their differences and reach agreements that are beneficial to their people and the future of Palestine. A simple internal agreement on who controls the crossing point with Egypt that can provide genuine relief to the 1.5 million Gazans has not seen the light even though it appears that the Egyptians are willing to reopen the crossing point if such an agreement could be reached.

The world is certainly not interested in the Palestinian cause today. If Palestinians themselves, and especially the leaders, are unable to work together and challenge the Israelis and the world with a clear, doable political plan, it is unlikely that others will step up to try and find a solution.

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