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Palestinian unity or security coordination with Israel?

January 25, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Dr Abdel Sattar Qassem

Security coordination with Israel stands in direct opposition to Palestinian unity, for it is collaboration by any other name. It conflicts with the inalienable national rights of the Palestinian people and their freedom and independence. Security coordination with Israel is a stain on the people and their struggle against an enemy which has displaced them and usurped their land; such collaboration is a disgrace. There is no historical precedent of a government-in-waiting standing at the gates of its executioners, guarding them while they violate the rights of its people. The politicians and so-called leaders who agree to cooperate in any sphere with Israel are shameless.

Is it possible for Palestinians to achieve national unity on the basis of security coordination with Israel? We are faced with two options: we can unite around the recognition of Israel and serve its security interests above our own; or we can unite on the basis of working together to restore our rights. It could be argued that coordination (aka cooperation, collaboration) with Israel will eventually deliver us our rights, but is it really possible for the one who is oppressed to seek justice by serving the oppressor? We could get the crumbs thrown by Israel out of sympathy, but we haven’t even seen that much after twenty years of Palestinian coordination with Israel’s security. In fact, the demands of the Israelis are never ending, and they are not interested in returning rights to the Palestinians, who they now regard as mere security guards. Those Palestinians in office who advocate such coordination with the Zionist state depend on Israel for their daily bread; salaries are more important than inalienable rights, which are reduced to slogans for public consumption.

Those seeking reconciliation and Palestinian unity have to put the rights and needs of the Palestinian people above everything else. Israel’s security should not take priority over the legal rights of the Palestinians; servicing the oppressor is no way to work in the service of the oppressed.

We must distinguish between civil security and national security. Civil security must be in the hands of the police force following fundamental changes in its structure and management. National security, however, cannot be maintained through civil security agencies because they are not capable of facing a regular army such as Israel’s. At the moment, the Palestinian “security services” are being helped by donor states to develop, not so strongly that they pose a threat to Israel, but strong enough to combat Palestinian resistance to Israel’s illegal occupation. If Palestinians are to be serious about their own security rather than Israel’s, national security must be in the hands of those who are used to tackling an occupation army. The current “general intelligence, military intelligence and preventive security” groups working on behalf of Israeli security forces must be dissolved and their personnel absorbed into civil security bodies. We do not need those who spy on us and betray us to our oppressors; we need people who will stand up for Palestinians in the face of Israel’s occupation and its attendant oppressive infrastructure.

Hamas must, therefore, stop demanding reform of the security services because this suggests it wants to be a partner in its management and control. We do not need such an apparatus in the West Bank and it should be disbanded. What is critical, however, is the development of all-round resistance to Israel’s illegal occupation based on sound scientific and professional principles. We must put an end to the bravado displays of weapons in public. We all agree that those who show-off their weapons publicly before the Occupation is either a traitor or a fool. If the talks for reconciliation and unity are to be genuine, Hamas and Fatah must develop experts and independent consultants who can produce a new Palestinian charter to which all can adhere, and push for its implementation without resorting to giving support to the oppressor. Justice as well as peace must be the objective, with human rights and international law at the forefront.

The author is a Professor of Political Studies at Al Najah National University, Nablus

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.