Palestinians refuse to stop thinking forward

Palestinians refuse to stop thinking forward

The quasi-besieged Palestinian leaderships in Ramallah and Gaza are rather lucky. Despite the multitude of crises that they find themselves forced to deal with, Israeli military occupation, a USA-Israeli plan to liquidate their struggle for freedom and independence, another round of Israeli annexation, and the novel COVID-19 pandemic that has befallen the world at large, their people keep thinking forward.

One such case in point is from the Palestine Strategy Group (PSG). This decade-old initiative has been busy working towards the publication of the ‘Palestine 2030 – A decade of Clarity and Renewal’ report. It was virtually launched on 30 June and present were Palestinians from all walks of life, from Palestine, both the West Bank and Gaza, Israel, and the refugee and diaspora communities. ‘Palestine 2030’ is the culmination of a three-year research project and builds on twelve specially commissioned research papers and several in-person workshops that analyze the Palestinian issue through the lens of the changing Israeli, regional and international contexts.

The many contemporary challenges present across all three contexts largely serve to obstruct effective avenues for the realization of Palestinian freedom and independence and a just resolution to the issue of refugees as defined in UN resolutions. Despite this, the PSG report affirms the upcoming decade to be one of clarity for all stakeholders and engaged parties, with evident hope and opportunity for a positive renewal of Palestine and its people.

The clarity in the context of this report refers to the emerging of a clear timeline for imposing and recognizing Palestine; moving from declarations to actions; closing the gap between Palestinian formal politics and the Palestinian people; restoring legitimacy and reforming the PLO; giving Palestinian political agency priority over the administrative Palestinian Authority; reviving the role of refugees and diaspora in Palestinian politics and strategy, and adopting popular resistance as the national strategy by the PLO and civil society.

Although the research for ‘Palestine 2030’ started long before Trump released his “Peace to Prosperity” vision, the Palestinian strategic response in the report was to reject the US “deal” in its entirety. This US-Israeli plan is no more than a plan to liquidate the Palestinian quest for emancipation. It is not seen as an end game or starting point. It does serve as a positive catalyst to bring clarity among all stakeholders, which can be seen in the US and Israeli isolation worldwide.

 ‘Palestine 2030’ concluded that, in light of developments in Israel, the region, and the wider world, the next decade will leverage the clarity that has come to the surface from all stakeholders while pressing forward for independence and freedom, and realistically unifying and renewing the Palestinian national polity, in all its forms, to collectively define the way forward.

On Israel, ‘Palestine 2030’ notes Israel’s abandonment of the principle of dividing the land within the scope of a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians. Furthermore, it chronicles how Israel has been consolidating as a Jewish supremacist settler-colonial regime based on racial segregation that survives based on its animosity towards its regional environment and its rejection of understanding or dialogue with it. Some examples are the 2018 Israeli addition to its Basic Laws, ‘Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People’, and Israel’s unity government rallying around yet another act of annexation of Palestinian lands.

On the issue of Palestine and the region, ‘Palestine 2030’ depicts a reality of a region preoccupied with its national issues but harboring limitless public support for the Palestinian struggle. The report notes a few of the Gulf countries driving change in the region when mixed with their domestic unrest, serve as ingredients for more chaos in the region.

When addressing the seismic transformations happening on the international scene; the report points to the toxic mix of neo-liberal capitalism, military intervention, economic interests, and the COVID-19 Pandemic, as seriously threatening today’s rules-based global system of governance. The Palestinian issue is one of the visible arenas where the world can act to safeguard a rules-based world and avoid the current downward spiral to a ‘might is right’ system of governance.

Palestinian political agency
The report boldly addresses the issue of Palestinian political agency as well, stating that the PLO and the State of Palestine will also need to face their clarity and renewal in the coming decade as the Oslo Accords process has come to a formal end and the US has entered into attack mode with the administration of President Trump. In particular, the report states the importance of maintaining and strengthening the centralized and legitimate representation of the Palestinian people and their just cause (represented by the PLO). It also notes that the PLO must reaffirm its national and political role as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and not take any agency legacy for granted.

Lastly, on the Palestinian front, the report makes a clarion call that time is of the essence, noting that never-ending hollow calls for institutional reform will be replaced in the coming decade with clarity and renewal in actual institutional reaffirmation, a prerequisite to advancing the struggle toward results.

As a strategy exercise, the report does not prescribe solutions, but it does state that there is a sense of “nurturing hope and creating change” are moving forward. This is articulated in the three scenarios the report ends with:

1) Reciprocity: responding to all acts of Israeli colonialism in kind and not limiting Palestinian actions to where negotiations may have reached during the Oslo period

2) Renewal: Palestinians must build their capacity and impose national independence; especially given the majority of the countries of the world have already recognized this expected outcome.

3) Full circle: given all of the transformations taking place on all fronts, Palestinians may revert to a strategy calling for one de-colonized state between the river and the sea.

The report notes that elements of all three scenarios may be strategically necessary at various points in the ongoing struggle for the realization of Palestinian national rights, depending on opportunities and circumstances.

In conclusion, the report makes it clear that everything starts with the Palestinian people and that all options are now open in this decade of clarity and renewal.

PSG is an independent project under the auspices of the Oxford Research Group (UK) and the ‘Palestine 2030’ report was supported with funding from the Representative Office of Norway to the Palestinian Authority and the European Union.