Palestinians must rise to the challenge

Hamas has given Israel the miraculous opportunity to remove the word “peace” from its dictionary.

2017/04/30 Issue: 104 Page: 16

The Arab Weekly
Khairallah Khairallah

More than ever, it has become necessary for the Palestinian Authority to bear the cross of the Palestinian cause. It has started to closely resemble Arab regimes in which the ruler and his entourage care only about how to remain in power.

The Palestinians have no choice but to clean up their act so that they rise to the challenge the decisions of last Arab summit in Amman. They can no longer afford to behave as if all Palestin­ian objectives have been reached. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is trying to turn occupation into an irrevocable fact. He even wrote to the US president asking him to close an eye on new settlements so that Israeli leader can keep his cabinet together.

The Palestinian Authority is in shambles. There are no signifi­cant Palestinian figures surround­ing President Mahmoud Abbas. None of the Palestinian ambassa­dors around the world is worth mentioning.

Who knows that there is a prime minister? Who knows the name of the prime minister who took over from Salam Fayyad? Fayyad was fired because he was guilty of reforming the Palestin­ian administration and laying the groundwork for a real Palestinian state.

An independent Palestinian state will one day see the light. It is normal, then, that the Palestin­ians must prove to the world and to their donors that they are capable of running the affairs of a state even when they are still under occupation.

The Palestinian Fatah move­ment needs to regain its health. It must quickly return to its role as a serious counterweight to the Hamas movement, which is sabotaging the Palestinian national project. After Yasser Arafat’s death, Fatah was unable to renew itself and regain its momentum. A lot can be said about Arafat’s mistakes but no one can deny that the Palestin­ians’ iconic figure knew how to attract and surround himself with talented people from all kinds of political currents.

None of Fatah’s current leadership possesses the cha­risma or vision to carve a signifi­cant niche for the Palestinian cause in an important country somewhere.

The Oslo accords behind the creation of the Palestinian Authority were negotiated and signed by the Palestinian Libera­tion Organisation (PLO). Where is the PLO now? At the same time, we cannot ignore the negative role played by Hamas even though the movement is trying to distance itself from the interna­tional network of the Muslim Brotherhood in preparation for the eventuality of taking over from Abbas.

The problem with Hamas is not just that it is an integral part of the Muslim Brotherhood and its backward mentality. It is worse in that it has turned Gaza into an Islamic emirate, à la the Taliban. By doing so, it has given the world a different image of the Palestin­ian people.

Historically, Palestinians have been open to all civilisations. With Hamas, weapons, masked fighters, oppressing females and launching rockets have become typically associated with Pales­tinians in Gaza. Hamas has given Israel the miraculous opportunity to remove the word “peace” from its dictionary, to continue dividing the Palestinians and to perpetuate its ugly siege of the Gaza Strip.

It is undoubtedly important that Arab countries continue to defend the Palestinian cause. It is much more important, however, that the Palestinians themselves take their destiny in hand. They must convince the United States and Israel of their determination to have their own independent state. They must regroup and give no one other than them­selves the opportunity to reap the fruits of their struggle.

Khairallah Khairallah is a Lebanese writer.

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