Summary of the political meeting organized by the Arab Thought Forum ( ATF) under the title, “ Direction of the Palestinian Compass in the Midst of Historical Transformations for the Year 2006” which was held in Ramallah on 23 August 2006. The participants were: Attalah Hanna, Basam Salhi, Yousef Habash, Ahmed Suboh, Tahir Nammari, Walid Khalid, Mohd Abbas Abed Al Haq, Wasil Abu Yousef, Ratib Al Amlah, Qays Abed Karim, Khalil Nakhleh, George Jacqaman, Ziad Abu Ziad, Suha Bargouthi, Saman Khoury, Alam Jarar, Wafa Abed Rahman, Rania Qutteneh, Abed Latiff Gaith, Natasha Khalidi, Izz Addin Ghaleb, Ahmed Rowaidi, Wafa khoury
Moderator: Abed Rahman Abu Arafeh
Summary by: Nasir Omar Yaqub
An attempt to evaluate “ A Political Theory” as a regulator of the course of events
The attempt to detect the direction (attitudes) of the Palestinian Compass in the current stage is based on the assumption that this year 2006 has witnessed great historical transformations that would clearly have a positive or negative impact on the Palestinian Issue. Moreover a realization of these transformations and changes, understanding their significance, a study of the Palestinian performance and the way it deals with the events in light of the everyday reality are the elements which would eventually determine the negative or positive impact of these transformations on the future of the Palestinian question. By having a quick look, we notice that the Palestinian performance so far is undergoing a state of schizophrenia that is characterized by a kind of contradiction. We may dare to say that the basis of this state is the 1967 War and its outcome. Prior to 1967 no political settlements to the Palestinian Question were offered as opposed to the period that followed that year in which there were a lot of deliberations regarding settlements whose its interactions have emerged to the surface.
At a certain time when the Israelis tried to impose certain settlements; it seemed that the first Intifada emerged as a kind of challenge and response to that attempt which aimed at imposing a settlement that completely meets to the outcomes of the 1967 war. It may be noted that the formula between the outcome of 1967 war and the first Intifada constituted a kind of “ settlement” in the adjustment of the Balance of Powers which paved the way for the birth of the Oslo Agreement which was torn by the two sides: Israeli who were stretching it so hard to be as close as possible to the 1967 outcome while the Palestinian Authority was on the other extreme trying to pull the agreement towards the achievements of the year 1967. It looks like that the two sides the Palestinian and the Israeli have dealt with the realities and sequences of events in light of the framework of this concept. This explains the force and determination that each side used in an attempt to serve its own interests in accordance with its own interpretation of the balance of powers and their variations.
This “theory” has continued to control the track of the relationship between the two parties until the beginning of the current year which has witnessed qualitative and historical transformations. The beginning of this year had witnessed a process of democratic elections. The victory of Hamas was the first surprise of this year together with all the political concepts and significances it represents especially in light of the fact that the Movement does not fully recognize the outcomes of the 1967 War nor does it deal with the existing balance of powers. In contrast, the Palestinian Authority deals with these results and their outcome along with the agreements it made with the Israelis. In other words, the borderlines for both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority seemed in complete contradiction with the tangible results of the 1967 War whether in the public rebellion against these outcomes or acknowledging them. For more clarification, an ambiguous situation has emerged as a result of the numerous instances of contradictions: On one side, there are “Hamas” propositions which are unrealistic since they challenge the 1967 War outcomes although they do not have the power that qualifies them to challenge these results, rebel against them and change the present balance of powers. What Hamas represents together with its armed actions is considered an attempt to prove that it possible to challenge the outcomes of the 1967 War. This attitude is very symbolical compared with the size of the present reality. Consequently, the Israeli response to the successful kidnapping stresses that the outcomes of the 1967 war are still on for those who do not want to acknowledge them. By the same token, the “Summer Rains” operation carried out by the occupation army aimed at convincing all – by force – of the consequences of rebelling against these results and their implications. In addition, the successful qualitative operation of capturing two Israeli soldiers implemented by Hezbollah in south Lebanon was another rebellion against the results of the 1967 War. Moreover, the Israeli response came to stress that the results of that war are still valid, and this is the formula that decides the rules of the game which would determine the destiny, condition and affairs of the Middle East.
It is not possible to quickly shed light on the open war which took place later on. The Israeli aggression against Hezbollah has lead to comprehensive strategic results in spite of the fact that it was considered as unfinished work by both parties. However, what was completed so far is indicative of a significantly high level of strategic change. What has taken place constitutes the first real challenge of the results of the 67 war and more clearly more than the challenge the 73 War results have against them. Yet this challenge was a partial one, and did not have the same momentum the recent war, which does not have a name yet, had.
In light of this in-depth analysis, the attitude of the Palestinian people has to be understood together with where it is heading. Moreover where its compass is moving in the midst of this haziness and ambiguity especially when the qualitative changes and historical confrontation in the southern Lebanon open a margin of option to Palestinians especially in light of the Israeli defeat which would certainly have its impact on the Palestinian option. Detecting the thin line and identifying the right track are one of the internal tasks towards reaching safety.
The required discussion to determine the right track maybe highlighted in three basic elements:
• Political Address: It is vital to look into the nature of the Palestinian address in light of these changes. Undoubtedly, the National Understanding Document – Modified Prisoners Document- represents a reasonable address from a theoretical point of view, but it is highly doubtful that it represents a practical basis for any practical strategic action.
• Prerequisites for the Next Stage: It is expected that the next stage might be difficult and tough. There is a consensus that this next stage will severely hit simple living conditions as well as big strategies with special emphasis on the controversial relationship between strategic and living aspects which will be influenced as well; thus, it is imperative to determine the thin line of balance between both in order decide what is appropriate.
• Basic Obstacles and Challenges: It is imperative to determine and identify the obstacles and challenges in order to determine ways of tackling them and overcoming them so as to help the Palestinian people and its cause reach safe grounds.
Main Characteristics of the Current Situation:
In order to move ahead with the issue of Palestinian address towards the next stage together with the prerequisites, challenges and obstacles, it is imperative to carry out a political analysis of the present reality in order to serve as ground basis to launch action regarding answering detrimental Palestinian questions without having to be absorbed into minute and meticulous political analysis.
The Lebanese resistance has proved to be capable of making concrete achievements against the Israeli mentality and its huge arsenal. The Israeli government has drastically failed in fulfilling its vision through the use of force. The Lebanese resistance has succeeded in defeating the Israeli plans and schemes. These are now newly recognized facts on the ground. It is plausible to state that there is almost a consensus that the Lebanon Israel War has constituted a strategic change and a turning point in the thought and approach towards this change in the region. In spite of the fact that the war is not finished yet and perhaps is awaiting a new round, what has happened can never be surpassed by all means. The Lebanon War has pulled Israel into the swamp of a comprehensive crisis and a huge internal controversy as an expression of the earthquake( blow)that hit the state and its institutions; this paves the way for huge political changes in the near future. However, what is worse is the impact of this reality on the internal Palestinian situation and the relationship between the Israeli and Palestinian sides.
There are two contrasting points of view: The first stresses that the Israeli government will focus its revenge on Palestinians and their government, and it is in the process of preparing for unprecedented, escalating and retaliatory activities against Palestinians to compensate for its drastic failure in Lebanon; however, this time it will not be deterred by anything. It is expected that it would generalize the policy of detention to reach the Palestinian government even it might be anticipated that all members of the cabinet would be arrested together with a continuation of its policy of isolation of different areas in the country. The Israeli escalation can be classified into two levels:
1. An escalation of all forms of aggression.
2. A systematic approach to obliterate the Palestinian Authority entity in the West Bank and to reinforce the disengagement of Gaza from the West Bank
However, a different opinion argues that there will not be any forthcoming Israeli escalation against Palestinians; the option of escalation will not be Israel’s next step. This view is based on a number of justifications like the noticeable decline of the rank of the Palestinian question on the international agenda compared to what it was prior to the Lebanon war. The call according to this view states that it is essential to view “ The Israeli Escalation” using a more comprehensive perspective which is embodied in the destruction of the entire national project; accordingly, it is a wrong analysis regarding the abnormal insistence that the Israeli escalation aims at the collapse of the current Palestinian government. Proponents of this analysis continue by saying that Hamas movement committed three grave mistakes: First, its wrong interpretation of the elections results as being a political delegation. Second, its insistence to form a homogenous government. Third, a misunderstanding of the sources of funding to the Palestinian Authority. Instead of wining more supporters, the movement and its government started to give unwanted justifications which resulted in more international isolation and more intense siege of the Palestinian people in spite of their grave need for the support of a third international party. The Israeli government does not wish to terminate the present Palestinian government; instead it wants to weaken it until the Palestinian government is no longer considered a negotiating partner that forces the Israeli government into making any negotiations at a later stage.
Whether the Israeli government wants to weaken or destroy the Palestinian government, the Palestinian political system together with its different components is completely paralyzed. For the first time in the Palestinian history, the political system is very much disabled and immobilized. It also suffers from structural deficiencies that make it unable to find a solution to the political crisis it is undergoing. The deficiency and inefficiency in the political system are apparent in the political performance, whether in its inability to launch political initiatives or to take any practical steps.
Moreover, this reality reflects itself in the street and in the inability of the public to respond to this leadership that is on top of the Authority and the government. It is noticed that the occupation has succeeded in creating three political, social and economic conditions on the ground. It reinforces the separation between Gaza and the West Bank and keeps Jerusalem away from any future formula; moreover, differences and dissimilarities have emerged as a result of the influence of the social and political conditions on the Palestinians in these three concentrations; even they turned into cultural differences.
According to this analysis, the observer sees that the manifestations of the Palestinian Authority and its symbols on the ground are very fragile especially the apparent manifestation represented in the Police forces, army and security who evacuate their posts whenever the Israeli occupation forces enter the Palestinian territories to make arrests and assassinations. It is natural to consider any authority that does not really practice its will and sovereignty on the ground as an unreal authority.
If occupation was disregarded together with its belligerent acts and continuous measures like insults, closures, arrests, and assassinations on the ground, the Authority on the other hand is incapable of keeping and spreading internal security. Instead, security chaos, militias, and armed gunmen who do not care about the Authority and its manifestations are spread everywhere; they only disappear when the occupation army appears. In fact the opposite should take place if we take Hezbollah performance as exemplary. Moreover, the Palestinian failure has also failed in tackling the social and economic concerns of the everyday living conditions of the people even at the minimum level. It might be inferred in principle that there is not a basic and political “ structure’ of the Palestinian political system which is the synonym to “ Deterioration” ; there are no leaderships, no means, no order and no effective institutions; this has lead the people who are starving as a result of the bad economic condition to distrust the government; it may also be possible to generalize this result to all the components of the Palestinian national movement which did not make any tangible contributions even at the level of solving the people’s everyday concern and securing the basic food for tens of thousands of the unemployed labor and farmers.
It might be possible that the Palestinian Prisoners Document is in fact the Palestinian address since it represents a reconciliatory position among most of the forces and factions in the Palestinian arena; yet, it is worth noticing that this document might be reconciliatory verbally but when discussion focuses on details it is possible that differences would emerge and polarizations start.” The Devil exists in the Details” as the proverb goes in Arabic. There is a possibility that each faction might withdraw from the agreement; however, it is essential to have a Palestinian address which is a basic requirement to overcome this stage and its obstacles. It is also important to clarify the main features of the Palestinian address together with its indicators, content and continuity.
There is one party that is inclined to consider the prisoners document as the required Palestinian address at present ; they also acknowledge that this document is the outcome of a process of dialogue among the different writers, columnists and factions. In spite of the fact that it constitutes a framework of consensus, it was only declared as reconciliation among factions. It is hoped that this document and its role would contribute to easing the severity of the Palestinian political system crisis and its polarization which is expressed by the existence of two different addresses and performances by the government and the presidency. However, the majority agrees that this document constitutes only a framework, yet it is unable to relieve the political system of its crisis; it does not even solve the crisis of the absence of a political program. Moreover, it would not cancel the existence of two conflicting authorities on the ground. The two poles (Fattah and Hamas) do not only fight on authorities but also on the leadership of the Palestinian people. Besides Fattah‘s refusal to be away from the decision making position or giving up the historical legacy, it seems to forget that the present condition is a process of a national liberation. While each movement is trying to secure their entities and achievements, the significant crucial issues have become in a state of loss and indifference.
Another party sees that the Prisoners Document was given more than what it really deserves; even a lot of hopes are attached on it, but it wouldn‘t be able to fulfill them. The document is not magic and it was only signed by a " handful‘ of prisoners; its text was phrased in general terms like (concentration of Resistance in 1967 areas). When the details of this document are under discussion, it is expected to witness a return to lobbying; thus, this would drag the whole process to ground zero as it was mentioned above. Palestinians need to have a clear agreed upon political program whose formulated objective is connected with a political will for implementation and a plan of action. However, the Palestinian street is absorbed into completely conflicting political, social and economic agenda and barely takes notice of the prisoners‘ document.
Both politicians and analysts stress the existence of two different and incongruent Palestinian addresses which are unable to coexist with one another:
The first is an extension of Oslo agreement while the second embodies the address of rejection and resistance. In the midst of these two addresses and on top of them is that mentality which states that there is no solution but a landslide victory of one over the other. This condition continues in this manner in spite of the hostile attacks and the gravity of the political developments which place the Palestinian question in a very dangerous and detrimental crisis which would turn this stage into an inappropriate time to obtain rights. It would be enough to bypass and avert the cancellation of the question and settlement of rights. With the continuation of the process of separation between the tracks of appeasement and rejection, there isn‘t any political will to overcome this stage through agreeing on a unified program and terms of references to back up this program.
Another supposition is of the opinion that the number of addresses outnumbers that of the factions; thus, it is very difficult to limit each faction to one address. The number of addresses that Hamas has, for instance, outnumbers that of those interviewed by the press. This reality is also present at a lesser level in Fattah movement and the civil society as well. It seems that the previous political experience indicates the need to revive already experimented propositions like" A Technocrat Government: and "National Unity Government" in the midst of the continuous siege of the ministries held by Hamas. Such propositions are useless since they were already tested, and they were proved to be a total failure. One may become a pessimist and believe that even if a government was formed on "March" a consensus and agreement on it is completely out of question.
Another view emphasizes that any address has to depend on invariables and intellectual foundations. In contrast, Israel itself relied on legendary, biblical and illusionary invariables through which it aimed to have an internal and external address. The same applies to Hezbollah‘s experience. Palestinians are capable of putting an end to the confusion in their address by relying on Islamic creed that has paid a great attention to the land of Palestine to the extent that it considers Jerusalem a part of the Islamic creed, and it considers it as a taxed land that is not owned by anybody since it is the property of all Moslems over the generations since this land is an Islamic Waqf.
The most important matter is in challenging doctrinal propositions using Islamic rational ones to establish an address based on creed vocabulary which may constitute a general agreement among Palestinians in making it on the same level of holiness.
Future Prospects and Political Solutions
It is possible to anticipate the broad line of the future prospects based on the previous analytical backgrounds. The first view talks about the continuation of the present period into the near future. The continuation of the present condition under different names even if initiatives like Reviving the negotiations process or coming back to the Road Map or discussion of new general mechanisms would lead to freeing them of their content and putting forward prerequisites which would guarantee the transformation of those political mechanisms into gibberish talk to make sure that no progress in any central issue on an negotiating matter is achieved. This proposition is based on the absence of an official political project for the coming period. There isn‘t on the table a concrete political plan since the Road Map – the international American project- which was the official plan was withdrawn from any deliberations in an undeclared manner. By the same token, work on the unilateral withdrawal (Olmert‘s plan known as Convergence) was suspended. There is no substitute for these two projects whether internationally or in Israel while the Palestinian side does not have what we may call a political project or plan.
The Palestinian issue and question will drop on the list of priorities of international agenda; it will slowly disappear to pave the way for the complex Lebanese issue which is closely connected with the Syrian, Iranian and Iraqi issues especially after the American administration sought to compensate for the failure in Lebanon and to reorder the region. The applicable political option is the inclination of the Palestinian situation to keep the current situation as is together with increasing its complexity especially through the aggressive Israeli policy towards the land and the people in the context of a nonexistence of a serious political action.
In spite of this aggravation and the anticipation of continuous deterioration, there is the prospect of holding an International Israeli Palestinian deal in Gaza in particular as a duplication of the Lebanese experience on the basis of resemblance between the two realities (the presence of Israeli Occupation forces, launching of rockets, holding of prisoners on both sides). It is also possible that the present complication is a preliminary step for a reformulation of the political solution in the Lebanese model through an international resolution and a dispatch of international forces while in Gaza model there is an essential difference which indicates that this model will not be imposed by anybody.
According to this analysis and in order to make it possible to reintroduce "The Lebanese Political Solution Model", it is imperative to provide two Palestinian elements:
• A political plan
• An address and a leadership to carry out this plan
Here lies the impasse since neither of the two elements is present even the prisoners document does not fit in this context. It is possible to start as a mechanism to implement the plan through Arab coordination, gathering international support, revival of the Arab Peace Initiative, and to focus efforts on ending occupation but not in detail. If the Palestinian side insists on proposing and adopting the Arab Peace Initiative, it would not then go back to the Road Map or to international resolutions.
However, in the event that all requirements were met , the address that should carry out this plan and initiate its implementation constitutes another problem not less cumbersome than the plan itself and its adoption. The present Palestinian government is considered a problem and the formation of a national unity government is another larger problem than the first one; the last resort is to look for another address which would be in setting up of a joint coordination committee (It could be the same committee that produced and agreed on the Prisoners‘ document) in addition to the Palestine Liberation Organization and its Executive Committee. When an appropriate body is formed a leadership might evolve to start action and be considered as a point of reference until all files on the Palestinian internal arena are solved; this proposed analysis may constitute a possible exit.
Nevertheless, there is another point of view regarding the political future of the Palestinian question which stems from the fact that the American position is pushing the region into conflicts and the policy of "Open Grave" under the pretext of hallucination and fear from the element of Islam and Moslems. In this context, the slogan (Islamic Fascism) introduced by the president of the United States of America comes to reflect the great distress and the extent of aggressiveness that are totally controlling the president. Based on this interpretation, both the region and the Palestinians are facing two options:
1. The war option and the next round which both America and Israel might push towards its outbreak since they are unable to assimilate the victory of the Lebanese resistance and due to the fact that Lebanon has become an advanced position for Iran; a matter that is categorically rejected by both. This option might be accompanied with a spark of nurturing sectarian and partisan conflict between Sunnis and Shiites which America paves the way for especially following the emergence of the Shiites power in the aftermath of the Israel and Lebanon war along with engaging the whole region in a state of change and instability until it reaches an acceptable level to serve American interests.
2. Option of Negotiations, Political Settlements, and heading towards a comprehensive peace process in the entire region in accordance with pure geo political considerations until all sources of funding to Hezbollah dry up. Also it would seek ways to support Hezbollah in Lebanon following the severance of all resources and supplies since Syria is considered the lungs of Hezbollah. What confirms this option is what was reiterated by news agencies and news leaked from several capitals concerning an Israeli political solution with Syria. In case there was a serious approach on the Syrian Israeli negations track, if this really happens, Palestinians have to push towards having regional negotiations and taking part in them. They should also be willing to enter into any political process which starts in the region especially following the bitter experience which proved that the Palestinian side did not make any real and serious profits from any bilateral negotiations with Israel.
If this option was not properly exploited and this possibility was not ventured then the Palestinian side would be subject to exploitation among Israeli parties and sides as a result of the political interactions especially in the midst of an agreed upon leadership following the strong blow the Israeli government received lately from Hezbollah.
In spite of the previous analyses, the Palestinian dilemma will always hover in the horizon; this dilemma has become the distinct feature of the sequence of events right from the early beginning of the signing of the Oslo agreement which was about two decades ago. This has been very salient in Fattah movement, and it maybe summed up in the conflict between the internal and external parties. Following the “Possession and Hallucination” in Tunis and the fear from the control of the internal leadership over the sequence of events and rule of the internal affairs inside the country, a turning point has taken place and Oslo agreement was signed in return for the lowest prices in order to secure the authority and rule of the external leadership over the Authority and the interior. The authority that was produced by the Oslo Agreement was considered as an economic investment project to achieve material gains to a handful of (Leaders and Officials). It may be possible to state that this problem is still running the sequence of developments and events in Fattah movement itself; this problem is not solved yet; in addition this duality (inside- outside) may not be terminated in the near future.
On the other hand, Hamas movement has not yet absorbed the meaning and significance of moving from the position of a resistance movement and the opposition to the position of government. It is not expected that Hamas movement might conduct an internal reconciliation with itself in this regard.
It is possible that the formation of a non faction government might constitute an exit from the internal Palestinian crisis especially when the Legislative Council continues to be one of the most important elements through which Hamas movement can practice its role which is reflected by the outcome of the elections through giving or waiving confidence to any government. This is in addition to holding this non factional government accountable for their action. This is a temporary exit to break the siege that is imposed on the Palestinian people. By this way, it is possible to reconnect the Palestinian cause with its regional and international surroundings in a manner that enables it to maneuver and form allies. The existence of a non factional government is a bright option as a result of the nonexistence of a strong Palestinian power capable of making decisions, the presence of conflicting agenda on the Palestinian arena, the continuation of Hamas policy in making other factions subject to its control and the deep analysis which states that a real opportunity for an international American action before 2010 is not possible since it is anticipated that no diplomatic action would take place during the present term of president Bush.
Another analysis stresses the possibility of having a political track in the coming period within six months to a full year. Although this is not necessarily an optimist view, it is built on a number of justifications and considerations:
1. The emergence of an endless flow of articles and analytical reports in the United States of America regarding the Lebanon Israel War which stressed the need to go back to a political solution of the Palestinian question; it is noticed that these articles were written by the ruling American political class, elite research centers, and influential institutions which influence decision making positions due to their closeness to the present American Administration. This maybe considered an important indicator of what might happen in the future.
2. The outcomes on the internal Israeli discussion and its interactions which resulted in the emergence of an Israeli trend which calls for the need to go back to a peaceful political track with Syria and to revive negotiations with the Palestinian side. The head of internal security has made several remarks on the possibility to open a political track with Syria, yet he, at the same time, referred to having negotiations with Palestinians. While waiting for interaction and support of this new trend, a supporter of negotiation, on one hand or the other trend which supports war and escalation of military measures, it would be possible to consider this change as another indicator.
3. The main reason which might push towards opening an Israeli- Palestinian political track is the political vacuum. The previous Israeli Prime Minister – Sharon – had convinced the American Administration of replacing the Road Map plan with his plan of unilateral withdrawal (Disengagement) from Gaza Strip while the recent reoccupation of Gaza had cancelled Sharon‘s plan. By the same token, it has led to the failure of any possibility to implement the unilateral withdrawal (Olmert‘s Plan) in the West Bank. The unilateral plan may not be repeated in the same manner in the West Bank as in Gaza. Moreover the reoccupation of Gaza has made this unilateral plan an inviable political project. This in fact has produced a new political vacuum. Things are now back to square one of political vacuum which is in need for a political project capable of filling this vacuum.
4. It maybe possible to anticipate, on the basis of analysis of the regional conditions and the approach of the American foreign policy, a possible opening of an Israeli Syrian political track as well. At a time when the Israeli government works on procrastination on the Lebanese front as it awaits internal Lebanese interactions to hit Hezbollah or at least to instigate sedition, agitation and chaos, the Syrian interest requires an interconnection of negotiations especially when it would not loose the Palestinian and Lebanese cards and would use them to exert pressure on Israel.
Concerning the feasibility of an actual Syrian interest in regaining the Golan Heights, it is questionable since a solution to this problem in light of a political settlement between the Syrian and Israeli sides would certainly lead to an internal Syrian change which would lead to a questioning of the legitimacy of the regime and its policies; this in fact is what the Syrians fear most. Along with this indicator, an observer of the American policy and its jargon over the years finds out that it is based on a separation between files (Separation of Hezbollah from Iran, separation of Hezbollah from Syria, separation of Syria from Iraq,…) If the American policy really aims at separating Syria from Iran and the rest of the other hot files, there would be only one political mechanism to achieve this separation of files.
By the same token, the Palestinian people would be facing "An Interim State" which is a previous political project. If this became a reality, then Hamas movement whether in the government or not would not benefit from its "tactical" position which it holds fast to; this position advocates that, "Let him negotiate and let us see what he gains out of it". Then, Hamas movement together with the rest of the other factions would be required to show their position and attitude towards this interim state which is in fact a huge challenge and a test to the entire Palestinian national movement.
The thirty three day war between Hezbollah and Israel has proven the extent of the fragility of the Israeli forces and the great illusion which was woven around it was shattered by a blow which was not the coup de grace since the war came to an end. By the same token, the sequence of events has shown the extent of the Palestinian weakness compared with the honorable model set forth by Hezbollah fighters. The latter was able to set a fighting, political, economic, cultural and military model. Undoubtedly, this model lead Palestinians together with their parties, governments, and public to fall into a serious crisis whose roots are loss of confidence, disbelief of the leadership and factions by the people. The spirit of doubt and distrust of leftist organizations and non governmental organizations has widely spread even people‘s trust in Hamas movement itself has been influenced. It is possible to verify two historical stages (pre and post war) in light of the results and the political and intellectual repercussions which stemmed from that round of fighting which is expected to expand in the coming days.
The most important lesson learnt is in the significance of connecting the general political situation with the internal condition and the living reality. Talking about the elements of steadfastness and the ability to enter into a hard and long battle may not be carried out without paying attention to the everyday problems of the people. A close observer of the reality of the Palestinian society finds out that it has sharply deteriorated as an expression of the decline of its multicolored political forces: the elite are preoccupied with the general political debate in " Political Forums‘ away from the street. The people even before the formation of the last government do not know whether they were living under an independent state or in a country under the spears of occupation. The "superficial and outward" manifestations of government
have continued and the crisis has been aggravated as a result of the mixture between the mentality of rebellion and that of the state; thus, what made the situation worse and bitter is the people‘s revenge who held Fattah responsible for the corruption and the deterioration of the conditions. However, we have to admit that what made matters more complicated is the Lebanese resistance model which was built by Hezbollah and the Palestinians observation and follow up of the way how to holdfast and achieve this model and not to brag about it; they also observed the way how to preserve and protect it through selecting the kind of leadership that is capable of running the state of affairs.
The calls for political reality and realistic thinking have gone with the winds after two decades of following this approach which proved a big failure and only lead to the backwardness and loss of the Palestinian people and its cause. In light of this wonderful reality, the practice of serious criticism of the entire Palestinian national movement and the practice of a comprehensive criticism of the history of this movement in light of the new model is considered an unfinished business.
This leads us to talk about the absence of not only the direction of the compass and its haziness but also the nonexistence of the compass in the first place. The problem as envisaged by many was in the fact that Palestinians enjoy a good diagnosis and firm analysis, yet the problem is linked with the decision maker whether the several results of diagnosis were handed over to him and he did not do anything about it or in the fact that these analyses and recommendations did not reach him in the first place. However, in these moments, there seems to be a kind of impotence even in the diagnosis since many people do not know about what goes on in the Palestinian Authority and the government. No one is capable of anticipating the future events regarding having early elections or not; no one knows about the details of the issue of the merge of the posts of Prime Minister and the Presidency. Palestinians with their factions have turned into hostages to other initiatives. They have lost the ability to lead, to diagnose and to comprehend the sequence of events; in the midst of all this, the society collapses, its social structure and make up are disintegrating without having any attainable solutions.
Prerequisites for the Coming Stage
If the last Lebanon war is considered one of the rounds of the long struggle in the Arab – Israeli conflict, doubt and skepticism are what distinguishes the sequence of events. It is not necessarily true that the second round of war with Hezbollah, which is expected to breakout as a result of the fragile agreement under the auspices of the United Nations, would necessarily be a repetition and renewal of the first experience. The odds are great; the results and the sequence of events are difficult to predict. Palestinians are supposed to focus on the way to end the state of paralysis in the Palestinian political system and the theoretical and practical aspects of this paralysis. The paralysis of the system and loss of its viability are the actual reality which has reached the maximum degree of seriousness together with the huge societal collapses and protruding cracks expressing the dangerous elements of deterioration and its manifestation in generalization and escalation all over the country.
If the Palestinian address is part of the strategy, it is possible to indicate that both strategies on the Palestinian arena lack implementation. There should be no resistance with a rejection of political solutions that are highly attainable; there should not be any gambling on political settlements; negotiation without resistance may lead to an acceptable settlement. Reality has proven that the presuppositions and justifications of both strategies were a complete failure in reality. As for the actual and appalling result of this reality, it is in the state of disarray and loss of compass to the extent that the Palestinian people and their forces are like a wooden board blown away by winds and waves.
The existence of a Palestinian strategy is the only solution to the present Palestinian political reality. In spite of the fact that the national agreement document (Prisoners Document) is not enough, it itself talks about the need to reach a political program i.e. the prisoners document consists of elements to formulate a realistic plan. As for the document details which might blast the internal arena, they were phrased in this way to bypass the pressures of the party and factional interests which maybe used to blast any dialogue on the document; therefore, the document has tried to rationalize resistance within the international legitimacy and without challenging it.
In light of the state of frustration and despair spread in the country, the emergence of useless and unrealistic options in the midst of a comprehensive deterioration of a society, the popular pressure has played a significant role with the factions to make them approve the document which was signed under the threat of subjecting it to a public referendum. The Palestinian people and its forces are facing a definite state of deterioration especially regarding the political unity of this people which is being defragmented through hostile policies of occupation and on top of them is the policy of apartheid, separation, isolation and establishment of cantons. Building on this, we can say that it is essential to stop the disintegration of the political unity of this people in its own agglomerates at any price since it is an urgent need. There should be a popular pressure that is activated to exert pressure on the political system in order to stop it from protecting and running after its own interests and reach a political program. This seems the only possible exit from this state of deadlock in the political horizon of the factions in accordance with their platforms and attitudes.
Perhaps it maybe possible to consider the abovementioned proposition as optimistic compared with the following recommendations which where submitted as prerequisites for the coming stage. One view indicates that it is necessary to invest the last Lebanon war on condition that the different forces of the Palestinian society start a serious internal dialogue to reach a political program which can win a national consensus. This view expresses its doubt that this might not succeed due to lack of time and the tight time slot available to make appropriate decisions. However, if this dialogue does not take place, it would be possible that this opportunity would be lost. The solution would be in the repetition of the same common political “recipes” of the PLO together with its program; this should be accompanied by the Arab Peace Initiative in order to terminate the present international seclusion and to reinforce internal unity and national consensus. The basis and foundations of the project are threatened and not only the present government. As for the reason behind the emphasis on the available short time slot, it is considered that if the opportunity is not seized right away, then it would be a free gift to the Occupation. Moreover, the occupation is very pleased with the present reality since this would provide Olmert‘s government with the pretext for not entering into the core of the discussion. Moreover, the continuous paralysis of the Palestinian government is a catalyst to the Israeli pursuits. Proponents of this view are even ready to agree to a declaration of a state of emergency in the country together with a dissolution of the government and the Legislative Council to avoid the cancellation of the national project and terminating it until the president adopts the Arab Initiative as a temporary slogan to embarrass the Israeli government and to corner it in an attempt to force it to accept negotiations.
Another analysis which is similar to the previous view indicates that work has to concentrate on the revival of the PLO. President Mahmoud Abbas has to send an invitation to the preliminary committee of the Cairo meeting until it agrees on a national program and a strategic plan supported by the Arab world and the formulation of a Palestinian position regarding the current projects which aim at reordering the region as a whole whether as the large Middle East or others. This might put an end to the friction on the internal arena and redirect the lost Palestinian compass by directing it towards the occupation since it is the problem itself in order to bypass the dangers which are threatening the Palestinian cause and on top of them is the project of self autonomy in Gaza Strip along with a deletion of the state option.
One of the proposed positions as of the requirements for the coming stage is to launch an initiative to convene for a large conference in which all factions, forces and official figures take part in order to carry out a critical comprehensive process of the track of the Palestinian strife and its national movement in light of the new resistance model which Hezbollah laid its grounds. The aim is to have a unified national leadership who has a political program and a vision which has indispensable determiners and positions. These would govern the rhythm of the political movement and the positions of the largest movements on the Palestinian arena (Fattah and Hamas). Perhaps this approach might lead to a unified national government; however, this kind of government is not intended to be so nor does it represent an aim and a target by itself. Following the accumulation of failure, paralysis and deterioration, it is better for the government to submit its resignation. Also the presidency should follow suit due to the fact that these two institutions had sustained all types of failures.
Furthermore, a call should be made to the Israeli occupation address to come and bear its responsibilities which it was exempted from. The country in reality is under occupation. On the same line, there should be a Palestinian Emergency Committee" or" A Unified Leadership" whose aim is to manage to daily concern and to fight the occupation following a revised approach of what happened in the First Intifada.
More than one view, opinion, analysis and proposition have called for the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority. According to Palestinian analysts and observers, after the resignation of the president of the Authority and dissolution of the Legislative Council, new elections for the Legislative Council and the Presidency should take place in order to get rid of the phenomenon of a two head government or following the resignation, the Authority, the PLO and the Legislative Council are cancelled and dissolved respectively. All these titles have not offered anything serious to the country at this stage. However, the submitted analysis expresses the great failure and weakness of the abovementioned institutions. One cannot imagine an exit or savior from this crisis in the presence of these void titles which have become in fact part of the problem and not one of the elements of solution to the problem. These would only result in having more and more backwardness, weakness, dysfunction, and collapse.
Other opinions see that there is not an envisaged Palestinian solution in the horizon and the Palestinian cause would continue to be a bone of contention among the Israeli parties and subject to the solutions, initiatives and projects from abroad. One viewpoint is based on reinstating the international mandate on Palestine through calling upon the United Nations to prepare the necessary measures to put the country under an international mandate as an exit from the crisis.
Meditation has lead Palestinian observers during their attempt to decode the extreme complexities of the Palestinian situation and crisis to state that one of the prerequisites for the preliminary stage is to reconsider the analysis of the previous stages of the Israeli - Palestinian struggle since 1948 in order to detect the main political and security joints of the Israeli strategy in the different stages and to comprehend the Israeli measures in order to give a detailed picture of the complete chain of the struggle rounds, joints and turning points. Although the Israeli enemy writes, documents and saves on the archives extensively, the Palestinian side does not necessarily absorb all what his existentialist opponent says; otherwise, it would be possible to precisely phrase the drawn up Israeli objectives towards the Palestinian people and have a painting which consists of their understanding of us. If this prerequisite was not fulfilled, it is worth start carrying it out right away, so it is important to focus the Palestinian effort at the same time on the reweaving of the social make up and strengthening it through determining the mechanisms which fulfill that task.
By holding a comparison with Hezbollah experience and in making a derivation of the appropriate formulas as prerequisites for the coming period, the analyst finds out that the lesson of the heroic steadfastness portrayed by Hezbollah was previously portrayed by the Palestinian revolution in which it achieved a similar victory. Moreover, the contemporary Palestinian Revolution which was launched more than 40 years ago came in response to the partition countries and Sykes-Picot regimes in the region.
The more important lesson was that it is forbidden for rebels and activists not to be able to build and order their lives through stripping the political address of the factionist trends and to formulate a plan titled, " Oslo Battle and its Outcome" by counter fighting of the Israeli occupation attempts which aim at turning the Authority into a weak civil administration. The Lebanese model also shows the emphasis on the element of national construction.
Without confiscating the results of last Lebanon war nor belittling their value, this war was not intended to free Palestine nor did it originally intend to do that. Nevertheless, this war has regained the intellectual balance of the way to evaluate balance of powers and thus the way of employing them to achieve certain ceilings which could go beyond far more than what is available at present. It has also revived the hope to expand the spheres of resistance. Not only net gains, high spirits and feelings of honor, dignity and challenge were felt, but also the war has constituted a real turning point in the approach of national struggle and bypass of the regionalism which is considered the actual killer of the Palestinian cause. The matter has not been placed in its right place since it is governed by interactions, reactions and outcomes which have merged to the surface by the passage of time. Accordingly, as part of the preparations for the coming stage, it is important not to overlook these factors and go beyond them without conducting an in depth analysis of them. Moreover, the attitudes towards the Arab and Islamic worlds have to be formulated in order to let them influence events. Furthermore, it is highly possible that a big surprise might happen in the region soon.
Obstacles and Challenges
Obstacles and challenges are common in each proposition and attitude in light of the estimates which warn against the seriousness and difficulty of the coming stage in annihilating the Palestinian cause. Bearing in mind that the occupation is an impasse, the internal Palestinian situation and the processes of social deterioration represent the basic obstacle since the well being of the condition of the internal front is the foundation of the elements of resistance. The list of other obstacles and challenges may be long; there is no harm in listing them:
• Absence of a political program and a plan
• Existence of a paralyzed two head political system
• No formulation of a political address
• No diagnosis of the problem and the internal obstacles to be agreed upon and prioritize them according to importance
• Non existence of an active and efficient Palestinian leadership
• Not reaching serious and agreed upon recommendations
• Serious recommendations– if made – do not reach decision makers
• Decision makers disinterest and indifference of recommendations if they reach them
• Not learning for Hezbollah experience and its brilliant Model
These are some of the challenges and obstacles which were referred to in the context of the abovementioned.
The ability of the Palestinian people to holdfast and to continue their resistance over the past decades without having the lowest level of financial support is considered a miracle by itself. As for the responsibility for the current deterioration, it is the outcome of wrong decisions and practices which refuse to bear the consequences of their actions as if the people themselves are responsible for this collapse.
In this present context, is there a realistic possibility to make a major breakthrough that influences the balance of powers? In this regard, some insist that there is an actual possibility to strike a just political settlement along with the acknowledgement that the price of Oslo agreement was very cheap and it cannot be offered again. Others insist that there is an actual possibility to fight the Israeli aggression without explaining how this could stem from the womb of a hungry and insecure society. The Palestinian people are in great need for a salvation movement that is really based on popular support inside the country and in the Diaspora. "An Operations Room" should be immediately set up to determine objectives, set strategies, prepare means and plan work. This requires first an objective comprehensive revision.
There is always hope on the one who fills the vacuum!!!
There is an important question despite the fact that it is hypothetical: Does the Israeli defeat by the Lebanese resistance contribute to improving the Palestinian position whether on the political, negotiating, or resistance level? Is it possible that this includes advancement towards raising the level of the ceiling of the Palestinian aspirations which are still confined to the state of complete absence of justice dictated by the outcome of the 1967 War?
The answer could be positive with varying degrees, yet this remains very hypothetical not only due to the nonexistence of the direct Palestinian participation in this victorious war but also due to the fact that it depends on the possibility and ability of the Palestinian side to realize and absorb the variables and to act accordingly in all what is related to the political and ground operations in addition to quality and strength of the strategic allies. All of this requires a high level of visibility, leadership and ability which the present conditions completely lack. In return, does the absence in these signify continuity in the state of paralysis, begging and anxiety over what the dominating forces might offer? Unfortunately, facts indicate that. However, does this mean that we are before an individual case? The answer also a strong no, but it depends on the presence of a real leadership that is capable of confrontation and preparation.