A New Approach for Palestinian Negotiators

Article Summary
In their ongoing quest for statehood, Palestinian officials have more options than they realize, writes Naji Sadek Sharab. The difficulty they face has more to do with implementing a cohesive strategy - something he here seeks to outline.

Palestinians do not lack choices. They do, however, lack the ability to take the appropriate decision that will bring them closer to their national goals and the establishment of a Palestinian state. Perhaps the most difficult part lies in choosing one of the several options on the table. However, it is still too early to speak of any decision making, as the Palestinian political divide will impede the progress of any initiative undertaken in this regard.

It is illogical to make any decision that does not include Gaza. The pertinent question is: Do the Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the Diaspora have any say in these decisions? Are the Palestinian themselves involved in these decision, or is it a matter that lies exclusively in the hands of the Israelis?

Israel carries on with negotiations without putting any of its other options on hold: The settlements, the occupation, and the confiscation of Palestinians lands continue unabated. Israel has not halted its attempt to Judaize Jerusalem. The threat of a military option remains on the table. This stands in contrast to the Palestinians’ [approach,] for their political vision is fraught with uncertainty, contradictions, and even clashes. [This is illustrated] by the opposition between negotiations and resistance, or between “popular” and “armed” resistance. This either-or opposition characterizes every decision the Palestinians face [in their approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict], and thus all Palestinian options lose their effectiveness.

Before defining the Palestinians' options, one needs to underscore a few points that affect any decision making process. First, the decision to be taken requires an appropriate comprehensive political environment for its implementation. Thus, before taking any decision, Palestinians must identify the strengths and weaknesses [of their options].

Second, given the diversity of [Palestinian society] and its multiple ethno-sectarian groups - whether Arabs, Islamists, and above all Israelis - Palestinians must take into consideration all these social segments and components in any decision they make.

Third, will these decisions address the Palestinians, Israel - which is at the center of any Palestinian choice -  the international community, or the Arab and Islamic worlds? The Palestinian decision makers must take all of these factors into account and all the possible scenarios that may emerge [as a result].

Fourth, Palestinian decision makers must not uphold the option of negotiations at the expense of any of their other options. [In the past, forgoing other options in favor of negotiations] has weakened the [Palestinian position in] negotiations and brought them to a dead end.

Fifth, Palestinians must take the time factor into consideration. Palestinians were 60 years late in heading to the UN [to advance their bid for a Palestinian state].

Finally, Palestinians must be aware of Israel's strengths and weaknesses, which govern its choices; for Israel remains the crux of any Palestinian choice.

Having addressed all these points, what are the options available to the Palestinians?
The Palestinians' options are subject to the variables governing the Palestinian cause, whether [these considerations pertain to] war or peace.

However, at the heart of the Palestinians’ options remains reconciliation and the ending of [inter-Palestinian] division. The Palestinians must also strive to rebuild Palestine, its political institutions and infrastructure on the basis of democracy and political consensus; adopt civil disobedience; and finally, resort to negotiations. These negotiations, however, must be launched on a different basis, shifting the balance of power in favor of the Palestinians.

Sign up for our Newsletter




Cookies help us deliver our services. By using them you accept our use of cookies. Learn more... X