Six years after the first parliamentary elections in the occupied Palestinian territories, differences between the main political parties have taken a worrying turn. Persistent external meddling has given rise to two distinct administrative and geographic entities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, reinforcing in their wake the fragmentation of the Palestinian people.
Several regional attempts have been made to reconcile the parties. Some were well-meaning; others were manifestly ill-intentioned. All have faltered at the first hurdle, thanks to what the Arab street now calls the ‘US-Israeli veto’. They were, regretfully, aided and abetted by European governments who used the largesse of international ‘aid’ as a tool to deter Palestinian unity.
Indeed, European governments have exploited this contrived division flagrantly as an excuse to shirk their international obligations towards the 4 million Palestinians currently living under the oldest military occupation of our time.
Even so, Palestinian national reconciliation remains a necessity for a just and lasting peace. If nothing else, history has shown that any attempt to secure a settlement without national consensus would be futile and a waste of time, efforts and resources.
While such initiatives may preserve the status quo and even placate Israel, they’re hardly expected to bring an end to the turmoil and instability that has plagued this strategically important region.
Supporting Palestinian unity is not only morally right; it is, also the wise thing to do, politically. There is ample space for Britain, with its enormous influence, to take the lead toward this end; even if it may cause discomfort to some.
For Palestinians, unity is not a fleeting expediency or disposable luxury. It is a constant principled national condition for development and prosperity. Those who are unwilling to assist in the fulfilment of this noble objective must not stand in the way of others.
Underlying the canard of Palestinian division is an unwillingness to address the root cause of the problem – the dispossession, denial and domination of one people by another. Patronising the Israeli occupation may be an attractive and easy option, but the advantages can only be short-lived, allowing at best the temporary management of the conflict, with no tangible progress toward its resolution.
We must, therefore, choose between maintaining this charade of stability and laying the foundation for an enduring peace. This may be our last opportunity to be a part of a life changing process; one that would save future generations on both sides from the scourge of war, occupation and suffering.
Let’s take the first step, a leap of faith, by forging together a new model based on recognition of the right of all Palestinians to a life free from persecution and injustice.
This was first published in the TotalPolitics magazine on October 2012 – Issue 51