Rebuilding the Palestinian leadership
OMAR BARGHOUTI comments that the PLO no longer meaningfully exists but does still have a seat at the UN. “We’re not going to give up that seat. We just want to put the right person in it instead” by a grassroots takeover of the PLO to establish it as a representative organisation and reclaim Palestine’s seat and with it, the ability to utilise international law to back the resistance movement.
In Al Shabaka NADIA HIJAB warns that if the present talks “succeed”, Palestinian leaders would be expected to sign away the right of return and other Palestinian rights in an agreement that would change little on the ground. The plan of the PA’s appointed PM Salam Fayyad, to declare a Palestinian state in 2011 could also provide the appearance of an “end of conflict” while the reality remains unchanged.
Such a scenario could sound a death-knell for Palestinian human rights. A “peace agreement” would end the applicability of international law to the resolution of the conflict; permanently fragment the Palestinian people; and demobilise Arab and international solidarity.
To forestall this outcome, the struggle needs:
Unifying of the Palestinian body politic
Since Oslo the PLO does not represent refugees and exiles or Palestinians in Israel. Each section of the Palestinian people faces different challenges. The popular struggles for BDS and against Israeli expansion are rooted in the West Bank, as is the PA and its machinations. The BDS movement and its national committee are a uniting force for well defined rights, but cannot substitute for a national leadership.
Espousing common goals
Since the PNC accepted the two state solution in 1988, with its implied surrender of Right of Return, the only operational national document has been the 2005 Civil Society Call for BDS and its three goals: freedom from occupation, equality within Israel and right of return. Palestinians and their supporters must have clear goals to know what constitutes success, what violates the national consensus, and when to demobilize. Such goals are even more crucial in the absence of a leadership committed to Palestinian rights. In this context, clear goals provide a reference point for Palestinians and enable them to organize effectively.
Today, the 2005 Civil Society Call is the only clear statement of goals available to the Palestinians that is broadly accepted by a wide swath of civil and political forces within and outside historic Palestine. It is grounded in international law, and the goals encompass Palestinians under occupation, in exile, and in Israel. As such, the Call’s value goes well beyond the BDS strategy, effective as this is proving to be.
Applying international law
This is a powerful non-violent strategy, its values over-riding the rights Israel claims for itself. In referencing it, Palestinians strengthen its power and relevance worldwide.
Using appropriate tactics
International law supports armed struggle against the occupation, but this arena is where Israel is strongest and Palestinians are weakest, and gives Israel its biggest propaganda weapon. And any such struggle that deliberately targets civilians contravenes international law, thereby weakening Palestinians’ appeal to that law for restitution. Civil resistance and BDS are strengthening Palestinians and weakening Israel.
Strengthening the Arab and international movement of sollidarity
Arab sympathies remain with the Palestinians but few have any sense of how they can help, but now BDS and flotillas to Gaza are starting to mobilise them. A Peace Deal backed by Arab governments threatens to undermine this.
Full text: http://al-shabaka.org/policy-brief/politics/what-if-peace-talks-succeed
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