A Simplified Palestinian Strategy for the Next Phase of the Struggle

By Sharabi, Hisham | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, April 2001 | Go to article overview

A Simplified Palestinian Strategy for the Next Phase of the Struggle


Sharabi, Hisham, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


A Simplified Palestinian Strategy for the Next Phase Of the Struggle

Aside from being a revolt against the enemy, the current intifada has been a revolt against the existing Palestinian reality. Proclaiming the Palestinian people's rejection of agreements signed in their name without their consent, it insists as well on their right to participate in determining their own destiny.

Furthermore, the intifada has brought the Arab peoples back into the struggle against Zionism and colonialism, and erased the existing equations in Palestine and the Arab world as a whole.

The al-Aqsa intifada, in short, has pushed the Arab-Israeli conflict to a new phase.

What are the characteristics of this coming phase and what are its consequences?

An Israeli reading of what can be expected to happen in the coming years was offered in the Feb. 15 edition of the Israeli daily Ha'aretz by Meron Benvenisti, one of Israel's most important, moderate and humane analysts: "The ugliest scenario of all is about to take place: The retaliatory strikes that will be undertaken by Israel against the Palestinians will lead to bloody reactions, which will in turn lead to more brutal collective retaliation that would result in doing away with what is left of the Palestinian Authority's powers. All attempts to reach a solution of the crisis will fail because of internal differences. The winner in Israel will be the elements that feed on hatred and bitterness--the elements that derive their strength from bloodshed."

Benvenisti then recalled what he had predicted 20 years ago: "The coming conflict will be a drastic one whose barbarism will reach a primeval level. It will not be a political conflict such as occurs among contemporary states, but a bloody conflict that springs from primitive instincts beyond policy, and aims at asserting the self and expunging the other--motivated by fear of physical annihilation and blind adherence to full justice that accepts no bargaining--a violent `dynamic' conflict that would not cool off or cease in the near term."

This, in my view, is an accurate scenario or reading of what may happen in the coming phase. The question for us is: what must be done to prepare for this phase and confront the coming Israeli violence?

There are four elements that, if they materialize in the coming years, will enable the Palestinian people not only to face Israel but also change the balance in the entire region.

First: Comprehensive material support for the Palestinian people in the West Bank, Gaza and inside Israel. This support would ensure the building of an integrated Palestinian economy that provides all Palestinians with basic social services--health, education, housing, employment.

Promises of support will not by themselves be enough. There must also be methods and modalities to ensure their implementation. For example, an independent foundation can be established along the lines of the Kuwaiti Fund for Arab Development to administer the support project and supervise the mechanics of implementation, etc. To make such a project work we need political will, rational organization and proper nationalist sensibility.

Second: Ensuring international protection for the Palestinian people. Lack of international protection and supervision that leaves the besieged Palestinians to the mercy of the Israelis, and the continuation of the status quo under Israeli military domination (a continuous state of siege and suppression) would surely lead to the most serious consequences for living standards, social and economic conditions, and would transform Palestinian society into an impoverished, shattered and illiterate society that suffers from diseases, impotence and internal paradoxes--a society easy to dominate and difficult to change for a long time to come. …

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