Palestine’s many experiences with Israel, especially that of resistance and the steadfastness of our people, not least in facing up to “Operation Protective Edge”, highlight the failure of the negotiations approach as the sole political and strategic option.
The example of all national liberation movements demonstrates that resistance, in all its forms and manifestations, especially armed struggle, is capable of forcing Israel to accede to the legitimate rights and demands of the Palestinians. Resistance has forced Israel to recognise the presence of the Palestinian people after a long era of denial, even if some officials and politicians still deny our existence. The resistance also strengthened our national identity and gained broad international recognition for our people and their national cause. At the same time, it acted as a source of pain and loss for the Zionist project as a whole, and prevented the enemy from achieving the goals behind its attacks on the civilians of the Gaza Strip.
Since they were founded, all of the Palestinian resistance factions have adopted the concept and tactics of “a long-term popular war” in our conflict with Israel, and insisted that Palestine, from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea, is the natural and historic Palestinian homeland. The deviation of some from this, either in the PLO’s Ten Point Programme; in the build-up to the Oslo talks or following the Oslo Accords; in the elimination of the Palestinian National Charter clauses related to the armed struggle in 1996; or by setting negotiations as the sole strategic option which has only brought about destruction to the Palestinian cause and the rights of our people; all of this has resulted in Israel merely granting a degree of autonomy for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This, of course, all happened before the political division and the emergence of two “Palestinian Authorities” and their supervision of the administrative and daily issues of the residents of both areas, but there have been no signs of sovereignty. The negotiations only led to Israel’s increased appetite for Palestinian concessions, more settlements and more massacres. Israel has never, even after the Oslo Accords, stopped arresting, torturing and killing the Palestinian people, destroying their trees and stealing their land and homes, in what amounts to a form of genocide.
US Secretary of State John Kerry is pressing to get the “peace negotiations” back on track after the US refused the (tripartite) plan launched by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the grounds that it comes from one side and there must be agreement from both sides. Kerry’s previous tours in the region and his talks with both sides, the Israelis and the Palestinians, have resulted in a distorted American solution that is based on an Israeli perspective, the content of which is a framework agreement for a temporary mini-state that lacks sovereignty, any part of Jerusalem and the return of refugees. This mini-state would be nothing more than self-governance for the Palestinians, which already exists; a dismembered canton without any geographical links to Gaza, as well as an Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley area, that will become permanent.
In addition to this, there is another fact we must acknowledge. The US cannot be an honest broker between the Palestinians and Israel. I do not say this lightly, but do so based on the content of the US strategic guarantees letter sent to Israel in 2004, which sets out a number of principles, most notably America’s commitment to Israel’s security and its promise not to pressure Israel to accept any solutions or compromises with which it is unhappy. The PA must accept that the US is committed fully to an Israeli solution, without adding or omitting anything from it. The position of the American and Israeli allies regarding an agreement are very similar, as Washington rejects the right of return for the Palestinians and understands that Israel wants to keep Jerusalem “united” as its “eternal capital”. On this basis, shortly after they are elected, all US presidents promise to transfer the American embassy to Jerusalem, and this is very significant. The only conflict between the Israeli and American positions lies in the issue of Israel’s illegal settlements. Washington is not actually against settlements, but it supports a temporary freeze in their construction in order to facilitate the negotiations and push the parties to reach an agreement.
It is important to note that the negotiations strategy has only led to Palestinian concessions, and it will lead to more in the future. Other national revolutionary movements whose land was occupied have only engaged in negotiations with their enemies after conditions were met; they usually started talks at a stage in the conflict when the revolutionaries were on the verge of victory. They also based their negotiations on real achievements on the ground, and these have only ever been achieved by resistance, usually armed. On top of that, they did not bargain and compromise away any of the national and human rights of their people because, as a result of the large and unsustainable losses sustained by the usurpers in economic and human demographic terms, it was the occupiers who were in need of a peace deal. It was always necessary to have a mass popular movement supported politically by many countries. If the leaders of the Palestinian cause had relied on revolutionary struggle and a strategy that did not concede the people’s rights, the Arab masses from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf would have supported them. It is clear, therefore, that there is no alternative to a revolutionary resistance movement; it alone can win.
Another condition to be insisted upon is the continuous reference to the achievements being made on the ground, as negotiations are not only a requirement for the revolutionary movement, but also for the enemy. The current negotiations process is basically intensifying the division in the ranks of the Palestinian people and the Arab world, while the approach of resistance is uniting them.
The Vietnamese national liberation movement (the National Liberation Front) engaged in negotiations with the US occupier in Paris, some rounds of which only lasted a few minutes. During these talks, the Vietnamese would put their demands on the negotiating table, and if the Americans responded, they would continue; if not, then the Vietnamese would withdraw from the negotiations. Of course, there is a huge difference between the nature of the Palestinian struggle and that of the Vietnamese, and there are differences in the relative situations, both in the subjective and objective sense, but this negotiations experience was experienced by many national liberation movements in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Examples of this include the experience of the African National Congress and its allies in South Africa and the negotiations that took place with the apartheid regime (the organic ally of Israel); Rhodesia’s experience; and even the Palestinian experience itself during the first phase of the revolution (before the Oslo Accords), which was the armed struggle.
Resistance, especially armed resistance, is a central strategy adopted by any national liberation movement to free a nation whose land is occupied and public will usurped. I challenge anyone to name one national liberation movement that did not adopt armed resistance as a part of its struggle. The notable exception which proves the rule is the mass civil disobedience movement led by M K Gandhi against British rule in India. In the general, though, the rule is that armed resistance is the way to achieve freedom.
All that is left to say is that we have had enough of the negotiations with the Zionist enemy; enough of caving in under American and international pressure. It is time to end the division, the media spats and the accusations between Fatah and Hamas; we must review the previous stage and commit to a strategy of resistance and its revival amongst the Palestinian factions that still consider negotiations to be the sole tactical, political and strategic approach against Israel. There can be no truce as long as the occupation remains in place.
Translated from Al Quds Al Arabi, 10 September, 2104