The Palestinian National Project: No Rallying Plan In Sight…Yet

“The achievement of Masarat’s ninth annual conference is that it has signaled, loudly and clearly, that change in Palestine is inevitable and that it is Palestinians themselves who will shape it.”

“To me, this conference seems like the first vote of a sequestered jury in a complicated criminal case who still need many days of deliberation before reaching a unanimous vote.”

Disagreement arose over the plan, the goals and the required action, how to deal with leaders, with existing forces with the tools at our disposal; there was dispute over whether to have a clean break from the existing political system as something that must necessarily be demolished or simply to bring down the leadership. There are those who justify and defend each proposition and those who criticize both deeply and call for change, even though the seeds of change have not matured yet despite the intensified need for them. This could mean that the collapse of the old order without an alternative will create a vacuum and ensuing chaos that the occupation is able to take advantage of, especially in light of its desire to alter the Palestinian Authority for the fourth time in sync with the new reality created by racist settler colonialism, which has striven for decades to create a fait accompli and facts on the ground that make the Israeli plan the only solution on the table, and the only game in town.

In this context, differences arose among the advocates of the one state and the so-called “two-state solution.” There is more than one school among those who advocate for the liberation of Palestine and the establishment of a single democratic state on the ruins of the settler colonial project: a bi-national state, a state for all its citizens, a state with multiple regimes, a racist Jewish state within which to struggle for equal rights, or a state based on the historical reconciliation between the Zionist movement and the Palestinian national movement … etc. Needless to say, neither of these two propositions is within reach, and there are different approaches to achieving each of them.

There are those who are calling for adherence to the negotiated settlements, while moving away from US sponsorship and expanding the framework of the Quartet.

And there are those who are calling for an end to the attempts to revive the negotiated settlement that Israel killed long ago and now wants to bury in the annexation plan it developed and is waiting for the appropriate time to implement.

There are those who do not see a contradiction [in working toward several goals at different stages or simultaneously] — ending the occupation and creating a state within the borders of 67, achieving individual and national equality for the Palestinians of the interior [citizens of Israel], the right of return, and at the same time struggling to establish a single democratic state on the ruins of the settler-colonial apartheid project. This group recognizes the limits of what can be achieved at this stage. At the same time, they refuse to abandon Palestinian national and strategic goals and the historical context of the struggle.

Disagreements [among activists] about how to organize also arose over questions about whether the Palestinian Authority could be reformed and rebuilt, or whether it has committed suicide in Oslo and since then, and therefore a new and creative way must be found to deal with the current reality [of Israeli expansionism]. There were also disagreements about what to do with the existing power structure [the Palestinian Authority], whether it is necessary to preserve it or whether it has to collapse –i.e., be dissolved, handing its keys over to the occupation, whether to preserve it despite the occupation’s plan to destroy it, or transform it into a tool of the national program within the Palestinian Liberation Organization after rebuilding the latter, or transform the existing power structure into a state.

Debate and disagreement arose again about the question of holding elections; should they be both presidential and legislative or only legislative? Or elections for the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Liberation Organization? Or just for the National Council? And is this to be done electronically or in person? Are elections the magic wand that is able to resolve the Palestinian predicament, or are elections a means rather than a goal, one of the general tools of democracy within a comprehensive Palestinian resolution. Additionally, speakers disagreed on the form of resistance required [for liberation] — whether it ought to be armed or peaceful popular protest, or include all forms of struggle?

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Articles by: Rima Najjar

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