The national liberation phase of a nation whose land is occupied and whose will has been usurped has acted as a turning point in the life of these people. How do they resist their oppressors and what means and formulas are used to organise the resistance and the popular forces to include all intellectual, ideological and political orientations?
The soundness of this formula is the only guarantee of the people's victory over their enemies in terms of the length of this phase until it achieves its goals. I bring up this issue in light of the recent Palestinian reconciliation, which still faces many obstacles that hinder its fulfilment in the desired manner.
The following questions arise: Is reconciliation the only goal? What about Palestinian national unity as a very important means and formula for the Palestinian people and its various factions? They are still living in the national liberation phase, regardless of the establishment of the Palestinian Authority after the disastrous Oslo Accords; they are still living through this stage and anyone who believes the Palestinians have moved on is deluded. Isn't Palestinian national unity a desired goal? All the experiences of the national liberation movements that ultimately triumphed over their enemies have based their experiences on national unity, which brought together all the popular forces and factions to fight the liberation battle; perhaps the Vietnamese experience is the best example in this regard, as the Vietnamese Liberation Front brought together all the country's popular forces and factions.
In the case of Palestine, the Palestine Liberation Organisation devised a way to unify the factions during the 1960s and 1970s, lasting until the early 1980s, but then the political contrasts caused them to separate, leading to many factions leaving the PLO while new factions kept away. With the Oslo Accords and the Fatah-Hamas division in 2007, Palestinian national unity declined and reached a point where it no longer existed, regardless of the achievements made by the factions during the first Intifada and its Unified National Leadership of the Uprising, which failed to realise all of its goals. The fruits of their labour were picked and used for the benefit of bargaining over the most basic national rights of the Palestinians. Despite how much the matter of national unity has expanded and branched out, I will still address the most important conditions required to ensure the success of the national unity formula to be used as a means of resistance and a necessary condition to lead the national liberation battle and realise our goals and victory over the enemy.
For a start, applying the concept of national unity as a broad means and practical formula to unify the popular forces and national factions is a necessary condition for victory. Without it, the people's strength remains fragmented and prone to conflicts amongst the factions at the expense of the main conflict with the occupier. Unity does not require a unified ideological vision and intellectual perspective amongst the national forces; the ideal formula for this unity is a single, broad national front.
Next comes possession of a political programme based on common denominators founded on national principles and on the national rights of the people who are struggling to realise these rights without compromising them. Having such a programme is enough to act as the necessary background for the front's daily political actions. Such actions are necessary to gain support for the goals these people want to achieve on a regional and international level. With regards to the Palestinian situation, there is a need to gain and organise Arab and international support, and combine internal characteristics and the national dimensions of the conflict that have many international extensions in the global arena.
There is then a need to have strategic clarity of the objectives. Without this, the unified front will remain prone to fragmentation and division. There is also a need to meet the requirements of this clarity by bringing together the political action/tactic and the strategic goal, and using them to serve each other. The contradiction between the two issues is an essential factor in the destruction of the unified front, dividing its forces and causing fragmentation.
In the case of Palestine, unity and cohesion between the popular movements and Arab national forces is a necessity, as the Zionist enemy is one that poses a threat to the Palestinians as well as the Arab world, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf. The Arabs have considered the Palestinian cause as their main cause, even though this concept has been lost during the current phase due to the conditions in several Arab countries, mainly the primacy of internal affairs.
The front must possess a programme to resist its enemy that does not exclude any form of resistance, and instead combines all forms and means of resistance. Perhaps the most important of these is armed resistance, but this does not negate the benefit any other kind. This is a necessity, a key tool in the hands of the people and the front to achieve their goals and ambitions by means of national struggle. The front cannot win if it excludes any form of resistance. No truce can be reached with an enemy which continues to occupy the people's will and land; the experiences of national struggles in three different continents have proven the importance of armed struggle to resist occupation, and this is sanctioned by international law.
No single faction should have full control over the decision-making of the front, and no exclusivity should be granted to any of the member factions. The concept of democracy must be adopted when dealing with factions affiliated with the front and its activities and decisions. All of the factions must be involved in the actions, delegations and committees associated with the front in accordance with the concept of proportional representation; all disputes and conflicts between the factions must be resolved within the framework of the front.
Finally, with regards to this critical issue, we must rely on the people, their orientations and their opinions, as they are the main and primary inspiration for the front. Achieving cohesion amongst the people and its national front is of the utmost importance.
These are some of the most prominent reasons for the success of national unity and the continuation of its unified front. Without achieving this front, one of the main conditions of victory will remain missing and the people's forces will remain fragmented.
Translated from Al Quds Al Arabi 11 June, 2014
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.