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A new strategy to make Israeli occupation costly.

The provocative US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has provided the Palestinian leadership with a unique opportunity. Palestinians can legitimately reject American monopolization 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. By making a unilateral decision on the status of Jerusalem, Washington has also provided an opportunity for the state of Palestine to join all international organizations and agencies. Until now, Palestinian leaders were reluctant to do so for fear this would anger the US. With this decision, the US has disqualified itself and therefore has made such an approach a logical reaction to the new American policy. Joining international organizations in the name of the state of Palestine is something that can, and should, be done quickly, even if at a later stage the US becomes involved. Once major organizations such as the International Telecommunication Union and others admit Palestine, it is next to impossible to reverse such decisions. But while the idea of widening the country sponsorships and joining major international organizations is important, a much more strategic decision is needed by the Palestinian leadership. Any observer of the current Palestinian-Israeli conflict quickly realizes that the balance of force is in favor 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 decided not to pursue peace talks any more, or at least not to pursue them with vigor, while the other side is not interested in a genuine peace process that is based on an agreed framework and criteria? What if the Palestinian leadership dismantled 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 need to remove any semblance of a bogus and biased 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.

A generation of young Palestinians are proving that the cause is alive and well, and their excitement and energy must be channeled through a newly elected leadership that is not shackled to the ways of the past.

Daoud Kuttab

Naturally such an approach needs to be well studied as to its effects on four 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 undertake a serious review of 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 behind it. Convening the Palestinian National Council would require the election of new bodies at the level of the Palestine Central Council and the important Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee. New names and new blood are badly needed for an organization 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 channeled properly through a newly elected leadership that is closer to the people on the ground, and is not shackled to the ways of the past. Palestinians in Palestine and around the world find themselves today at crossroad. What is needed is for a leadership to rise to this unique occasion by working seriously on an effective national strategy. What is wanted is new thinking that can clearly and effectively find the right mechanism that can accomplish forward movement. This approach might want to consider ways to 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. * Daoud Kuttab is an award-winning Palestinian journalist. Twitter: @daoudkuttab

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Geographic Code:7ISRA
Date:Dec 31, 2017
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