AT THE beginning of the tenure of every president in America, France or Britain; there is always a bold headline, “Peace in the Middle East,” followed by a multitude of behind-the-scene initiatives, but the situation in Palestine remains unchanged.
Today, US President Donald Trump renewed his slogan by sending envoys to launch Palestinian-Israeli negotiations which have been frozen since 2014. Everybody knows well that the initiatives are not for free; whereas Israel, which always occupies Palestinian territories at the West Bank, will not bear the cost due to the failure of Palestinians to unify their position.
Division among political blocs has made the creation of an independent State a secondary issue to the 18 factions, as they prioritize protection of interests of Arab and foreign countries which they have links with. Almost every Arab League member-State has a faction which takes care of its interest; thereby, making others illegitimate to an extent that the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Palestinian Authority — the lone legitimate representative of Palestinians — had almost been erased.
Disunity among Arabs is fuelling this division, so when Israel goes to the negotiation table with a united position, Palestine meets them with 18 different viewpoints. The same goes for Arabs who have different demands, far from the real objectives.
Palestine has been occupied for about 14 times since its inception and the solution was always from within at every point. The last happened in 1291 when resistance by Palestinians, with the help of some Islamic Arab forces, defeated the Kingdom of Jerusalem after two centuries of invasion. If Arabs develop the same habit in this region as a vision for their occupied nation, it would have prevented Palestinians from becoming commodities for some of their fellow brothers in Arab political auctions.
Arabs should face the reality by accepting that the best solution to the issue can only come from within. For this, people should determine their fate freely without interference from elsewhere. Palestinians have lost several opportunities since the 1940s due to refusal to share decision which led to losing their country completely after 20 years. Thereafter, another one happened when they followed Abdul-Nasser to reject a number of peace proposals.
There was another opportunity for peace and autonomy during the era of former president Anwar Al-Sadat. This situation led them to accepting the least proposal in Camp David in the 1990s to an extent that Yasser Arafat could not establish a safe region in his Ramallah headquarters where he spent his last days under house arrest.
Today, the same scenario of division is being re-enacted in a more serious way that threatens the existence of Palestinians. At a time Israel is working towards Judaization of Jerusalem and extending its occupied territories to the West Bank, we see Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups holding Gaza hostage to execute policies of Iran and Qatar after abandoning solidarity for the Palestinian National Authority which is recognized internationally.
If Palestine is really serious about imposing the two-State solution on the international community, all factions must jettison projects of other countries and dissolve themselves to act under the umbrella of the Palestinian National Authority. This is the only way to ensure equal demands from Palestine and Israel on the negotiation table, while the Trump initiative will become the realistic solution. Otherwise, Palestinians should wait for another 70 years before, maybe, they can have the right to establish their own country, after Israel might have grabbed the remaining territories.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times