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28 December 2017

A rights-based approach and a new strategy is needed in Palestine

By: Daoud Kuttab
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The decision by the Trump Administration to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has provided the Palestinian leadership with a unique opportunity. Palestinians can legitimately reject American monopolisation of the peace process. French, Russian and Chinese capitals have been approached by Palestinian leaders seeking their involvement in sponsoring peace talks. All three have enthusiastically agreed, but it remains to be seen if the Israelis will agree to anything but their darling American sponsors who carry out everything Israel wants.
The Trump administration’s unilateral decision regarding Jerusalem has also provided an opportunity for the state of Palestine to join all international organisations and agencies. Until now, Palestinian leaders were reluctant to do so for fear this would anger Washington. Now that the US has disqualified itself such an approach is logical and can be done quickly even if at a later state the US gets involved. It is next to impossible to reverse such decisions once they are made. Once major organisations such as the International Telecommunication Union and others admit Palestine there is no turning back.
But while the idea of widening the sponsorship rooster and joining major international organisations is important, a much more strategic decision is needed by the Palestinian leadership.
Any observer to the current Palestinian-Israeli conflict quickly realises that the balance of force is in favour of Israel and that the only way to dismantle decades of occupation is to make it costly. As long as Palestinians were involved in peace talks, it was difficult to put serious pressure on Israel for its occupation.
But what if the Palestinian leadership decides not to pursue peace talks anymore, or at least not to pursue them with vigour while the other side is not interested in a genuine peace process that is based on agreed on criteria and framework.
What if the Palestinian leadership dismantles the trapping of a pseudo state that the Oslo Accords gave Palestinians while in reality this so-called state of Palestine is devoid of any genuine sovereignty.
Palestinians can and should remove any semblance of a peace process while increasing efforts internally at national unity and at building support for a rights-based approach. Such an approach needs to look more to the need of Palestinians to have equal rights with Israelis (settlers or non-settlers) while downgrading the importance of statehood at the present time.
Naturally such an approach needs to be well studied as to its effects on 4 million Palestinians. Will it make their lives worse and if so are they on board for a long process that will not lead to any quick results? This is where the need for national unity is paramount. A session of the Palestine National Council (PNC) should be held in this coming year to cement the reconciliation process that began in Gaza and to make a serious review as to where we have been and where we are going.
The PNC, which is the highest body for all Palestinians is the perfect platform for coming up with new and creative ideas that can be the basis of a new national liberation strategy which would hopefully have the highest number of supporters to it.
Convening the Palestinian National Council would also need to elect new bodies at the level of the Palestine Central Council and the important Palestine Liberation Organisation executive committee. New names and new blood is badly needed for an organisation that has lost its original zeal and excitement. Events on the ground just in the last few weeks have shown that a new generation of Palestinian resisters is proving that the Palestinian cause is alive and well with young people. This excitement and energy must be channelled properly through a newly elected leadership that is closer to the people on the ground and that is not shackled with the ways of the past.
Palestine is a at crossroads now and it needs to rise up to this unique occasion by working seriously on national unity and thinking clearly about the best approach forward that can preserve the steadfastness of Palestinians on the ground while making the occupiers pay a much higher price for their illegal occupation, colonial settlements and denial of Palestinian rights.

* A Palestinian columnist based in Amman, Jordan. - dkuttab@ammannet.net

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