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The Future of the Palestinian Cause and the Region in the Light of the Trump Administration Policy
By: Fahed Sulaiman
March 7, 2018

After a year of having taken power and being at the helm of the White House, we can squarely affirm that US policy, as expressed in the formula of the Trump Administration, is characterized by being an offensive policy, it runs ahead to every rank, it rushes into every position and paves the way, preparing the ground, in favor of the Israeli party in order to achieve its political project, while maintaining a strong support at the military, economic and diplomatic levels. Meanwhile, on the other hand and at the same time, it exerts all sorts of pressures on the Palestinian party, by imposing pre-conditions to join the negotiating process, in the style of the conditions transmitted to the official Palestinian leadership by Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt. The conditions being posed amount to accepting negotiations while the plans of colonization continue on, to put a stop to instigation against occupation or to renounce the commitments of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) with respect to prisoners and to the families of martyrs, arguing that such commitments support and encourage terrorism.

Those conditions extend beyond, to encompass critical strategic decisions of paramount dimensions, such as the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and moving the embassy of the USA to that city, and to decide its status from above and outside the framework of whatever negotiating project agreed between both parties by virtue of the Oslo Agreements (whose failure was demonstrated since the very first days). There is an attempt to decide the sort of Jerusalem outside the framework of resolutions of International Law that have to do with the city, in the sense that it is a part of the occupied Palestinian territory and cannot be annexed by force with the aim of imposing a state of faits accomplis in the eyes of the whole world and preparing the political scenario with a view for the Israeli party to later take steps in the direction of said context.

Immediately after the decision adopted by the Trump Administration with respect to Jerusalem, there was an Israeli decision that was announced to build one million houses for settlers in the West Bank, 300 000 of them in Jerusalem, with the goal of flooding the city with one million new Israeli settlers. This decision was coupled with the separation of 140 Palestinians from inhabitants of Kafr Aqab and the Shafaat refugee camp and the vicinities of the administrative borders of the so-called “Great Jerusalem”, with the intent of altering the demographic balance of the urban population and turning Palestinians into a minority. Among other measures taken in the wake of Trump’s decision we can count the division of the West Bank into three cantons –north, center and south— and their separation from Jerusalem, as well as the decision of enforcing Israeli law on the Israeli colonies, which in practice means to annex them officially to the State of Israel. And the most recent –but not the last— decision was the one taken by the leadership of the Likud Party to annex all of the West Bank to Israel, and to maintain an autonomous administration for Palestinians over the population, but not over the soil, which represents an introduction to the so-called permanent solution to the Palestinian question.

On the other hand, Trump took another decision, not less critical, than the one taken with respect to Jerusalem. This was the decision to freeze (or rather to put an end) to the US contribution for financing UNRWA, as a step in the direction of dissolving its presence or of re-implementing its jurisdiction and limiting its responsibilities –geographically and programmatically— through the elimination of its resources, as a previous step for a solution of the cause of Palestinian refugees in a way that would coincide with the Israeli vision, with respect to the definition of a refugee as well as with respect to a solution that would replace “the right to return to their homes and properties” by “providing a permanent settlement for refugees” which would always be outside their homes and properties from which they were expelled in 1948, and outside the framework of Resolution 194.

We will thus face a permanent and final solution, the steps and stages of which are being traced in a unilateral way by the United States, in collaboration with Israel, and is progressing as a snowball, with an unstoppable force to be imposed on Palestinians and on the whole Arab region, in cooperation with certain Arab parties that renounced their national responsibilities described by the Arab League, and their moral responsibilities articulated in UN –Security Council as well as General Assembly— resolutions. These Arab governments are acting in collusion from baseless pretexts, among them the viewpoint that Israel is no longer a threat to the region, and that the threat is posed by terrorism that is harbored and stimulated by Iran.

We witness a transcendental turn that is as serious and dangerous as the one staged by Anwar Sadat when he visited Jerusalem and opened the doors to the Camp David solution. These new junctures will have repercussions not only on the Palestinian cause, but also on the totality of the Arab region. They are aimed against the Arab peoples, their states and their future. We thus argue that the duty to confront those plans does not only fall on the shoulders of the Palestinian people and its national movement, but also on the shoulders of all Arab peoples and their political forces. The regional solution is not limited to the Palestinian agenda, but rather it encompasses the whole of the Arab region, vis-a-vis the ferocious policy waged by the US with the goal of subjecting the area in its totality to US influence allied to Israeli influence. This is, therefore, the battle of the whole region, and this imposes on the Arab peoples and their political forces the duty to stand tall and to confront that policy so that we all assume our national and patriotic responsibilities.

The issue is not limited to Jerusalem, but rather it threatens the destiny of all of us. If the Palestinian people constitute the spearhead in the confrontation of this Project, the duty of the Arab peoples and their political forces is to wage, in turn, the battle in defense of their interests and their future facing the US regional project, whose headlines, features and steps are already apparent in all their danger.

The reaction to the US decision and its Israeli repercussions has followed two courses: the first is the Palestinian popular Intifada and the second is the political and diplomatic reply, in the extraordinary meetings of Arab foreign ministers, in the Summit of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul, in the support extended by 14 nations in the Security Council to international law with respect to Jerusalem, as well as in the defeat suffered by the United States in the UN General Assembly. We do not undervalue those important steps, but rather we reaffirm the importance of political and diplomatic endeavors in international fora, particularly in the UN and the International Criminal Court. Nevertheless, all that we have attested to the present moment does not represent but a minimum of the practical and effective reply to Trump’s decision and to the other Israeli measures, and has hardly matched the level of those developments and their seriousness.

On the other hand, the Intifada that is being experienced in the cities, towns and Palestinian camps in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, as well as in the territories of 1948 and in the diaspora and places of banishment has not yet reached the level required to turn into a popular global Intifada in which every sector and social stratum of the Palestinian people would participate. In our view, the Intifada is still lacking the Palestinian unified political protection that might elevate it to the required level demanded by developments and would turn it into a popular global Intifada that would –through the accumulation of efforts— make it turn from the varied daily confrontation, from a cost-free occupation, into a very expensive occupation in every aspect: material, economic, human and political.

Providing the Intifada with a unified national political coverage would avoid a repetition of the same experience suffered by the Intifada of the youth, with its ceaseless heroic but individual actions, in which Palestinian disunity prevented it from turning into a generalized popular Intifada. On the other hand, we count on the experience of the prisoners’ strike, which lasted 51 days and ended in quite a number of achievements vis-à-vis the jails’ establishment, even when certain influential parties did not fulfil their commitment to extend the necessary political, material and moral support to this movement. We also count on the Jerusalem Intifada and the portals of Al-Aqsa, that considerably predated the positions of the Palestinian official leadership, which seemed to hurry, attempting to catch up with developments after a week’s delay, under a political threshold of immobility, and failing to adopt a practical position vis-à-vis occupation.

Palestinian National Unity is the only viable political coverage that we might provide to popular actions and to whatever type of action, inside and outside the occupied territories. We refer to the unity of the political program of struggle, on the ground as well as in political fora, and this implies firstly delinking from the Oslo Agreement and all its commitments, firstly cooperation in the security field and the acceptance of being economically dependent on Israel. Until those two steps are taken, the issue of national unity remains inconclusive, and the response to Trump’s decision amounts to empty words and a discourse devoid of all content.

Delinking from the Oslo Agreement and their political, economic and security obligations does not amount to dissolving the existing Palestinian National Authority (PNA). It is a statement devoid of political sense, a suicidal jump into the vacuum, outside of all context or platform of struggle, alien to any juncture, step, objective or working mechanism. At the same time, and in our view, it does not mean, according to certain statements, opting for “only one state” in the midst of the present-day conditions and relationships of forces. It means the recognition of the state of apartheid, the state of racial discrimination, occupation and colonization, Zionist laws, for all this will provide Israel with a political coverage to proceed ahead and, without hesitating, its very well-known policy.

To be rid of the Oslo Agreement and to return together, in a framework of a national program for the struggle, to being a national liberation movement under occupation is the only condition that can transform the PNA from being an authority that administrates the population, devoid of the land, with the acquiescence of the occupying force from which it received the keys, and into an authority that would form the political and institutional bases of a state struggling to impose its sovereignty and the sovereignty of its people over the soil of its fatherland in such a way that it might uphold its right to self-determination and to be freed from occupation and colonization.

We are, in principle and firstly, a national movement, and our path to salvation from occupation and colonization lies in resistance on the basis of a national program that would combine the struggle on the ground and in international fora, in particular the United Nations and the International Court of Justice.

Those two steps –national unity and the recovery of our position as a national liberation movement of a people subjected to occupation— are the ones that will give back to the Organization for the Liberation of Palestine (PLO) its representative character, but on a participatory basis and not based on “subordination”, characterized by individualistic policies in decision-making on topics of political, administrative, financial and institutional nature, in which institutions and public opinion are neglected in favor of illegal, unconstitutional formations which –instead of an institutionalized policy— applies a policy of “concocting decisions”.

In order to attain that participatory unity, a vital requirement is a revitalization of the provisional framework of leadership within the PLO, as the prelude to allowing for a reconstruction of participative national unity. This is a first step to be able to launch a global popular Intifada of resistance and firmness, en route to national insubordination, towards a popular global war against occupation and colonization, against the Deal of the Century. This is vital in order to really turn into the spearhead of an Arab popular movement gradually ascending at the level of the whole region, which would converge with the urge of confronting US policy and its influence in the region, and among all this, the efforts and the political mobilization of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In this context and at a Palestinian level the stumbling blocks that hinder the reconstruction of Palestinian national unity must be eliminated through a joint work to “accomplish the program of reconciliation as was agreed by Al-Fatah and Hamas, and corroborated by Palestinian detachments in their dialogues in Cairo on November 22, 2017”.

Reconciliation means to make it possible for the PNA to take up its administrative and services responsibilities unhindered, while at the same time for a lifting of the measures of punishment and blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip, and for a facilitation of the plans of economic emergencies that might respond to the deteriorated living conditions prevailing there, such as the reconstruction of the impoverished infrastructure, the provision of electric power, drinking water, hygiene, a healthy environment and the rehabilitation of hospitals and other requisites for a dignified life. Contrary to what many people say, it must once again reaffirm that there is no contradiction between the gun that protects internal order and the gun for resistance. The reality of internal security contradicts the duality of the gun. That is the reason why we support the motto “only one gun for the Palestinian National Authority (PNA)”, making a separation between the role of the gun for resistance and that of internal order, so that each gun would have its function and a particular terrain in which it is to be used.

Notes:Fahed Sulaiman is Vice-Secretary General of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine

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