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What is next for Palestine?

12 89 54

It is time for a new beginning.

US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital came as no surprise to most Palestinians, for, after all the US' political backing and military funding of Israel is older than the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Trump's decision, however, has exposed the "peace process" for the last time as a complete charade. It also exposed the Palestinian leadership as corrupt, subservient and politically bankrupt.

If the Palestinian leadership had a minimal degree of accountability, it would immediately undertake a total overhaul within its ranks and activate all Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) institutions, bring all factions together under the umbrella of the PLO and declare a unified strategy inspired by the aspirations and sacrifices of the Palestinian people.

And if Palestinians are to start anew, they have to commence their journey with fresh political discourse, with new political blood, and a new future outlook that is based on unity, credibility and competence. None of this can ever take place with the same old faces, the same tired language and the same dead-end politics.

Since Trump signed the Jerusalem Embassy Law on December 6, many Palestinian intellectuals voiced their ideas about the proper course of action for their leadership and their people.

There has been much talk about a new Palestinian strategy. Palestinian officials have "threatened" to shift the struggle to a one-state solution - as opposed to continuing to pursue the defunct "two-state solution", to exclude the US from the "peace process" and so on; but there are few indications that their discourse is anything but transient and opportunistic.

In this article, I sought the opinion of 14 independent Palestinian intellectuals from across Palestine and the diaspora. Although they subscribe to different ideological schools of thought and come from different generations and locations, they shared a lot of ideas. Palestinians are demanding change, or, in the words of renowned Palestinian historian Salman Abu Sitta - interviewed below - they want to "go back to the roots".

The 26-year-old Oslo disaster should have taught those who started the process a lesson or two about proper leadership. It should have taught the Palestinian people that they should stand up in defence of their inalienable rights in their country, Palestine. Neither have learned their lessons.

In the past 70 years, the major achievement of the Palestinian people was to show that we are not pitiful refugees who need food, shelter and work. We are the people of Palestine from Ras al-Naqura to Umm Rashrash. We have the Palestine National Council (PNC), whose members are elected according to the National Charters of 1964 and 1969. We also have the PNC-elected PLO executive.

Today we do not need to invent a new Palestine or a new national strategy. We need to go back to the roots. We need to wipe out the sins of Oslo, which has been more detrimental to the Palestinian cause than the Balfour Declaration.

We need to have 13 million Palestinians, half of whom were born after Oslo, represented in a newly elected PNC, from which a new, young, efficient and clean leadership can blossom. We need to put our support behind the Popular Conference of Palestinians Abroad, which was formed in Istanbul in February 2017, for the same purpose.

Let us go back to the roots. Complaining and blaming others is useless. This is the time to act, not to talk. Let us do just that.

The immediate task ahead is to unify the Palestinian people, inside Palestine and in the diaspora, against US President Donald Trump's so-called "deal of the century" that is swiftly unfolding before our eyes. Trump's deal is nothing more than another attempt to legitimise Israeli control over all Palestinian territories and delegitimise the Palestinian people's historic, national and legal rights - especially the right of return.

We should not focus on whether we want a two-state or one-state solution. Instead, we need to focus on uniting Palestinians around the goal of freeing Palestine by dismantling the Zionist colonial project that employs brutal methods to keep them under control, including apartheid and ethnic cleansing.


© Al Jazeera