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Towards generating a new Palestinian political elite

History moves forward, and it would be a fatal mistake to move in the opposite direction. The people’s resistance of colonisation, oppression, injustice, occupation, slavery and the violation of human dignity are all matters that align with this natural path. Therefore, the relationship of colonised and oppressed nations with colonisation is a relationship of rejection, resistance and boycott via all available means and methods, not a relationship of co-existence and compromise.

The current popular uprising erupted, just as the Al-Aqsa Intifada erupted in 2000, as a reflection of the contradiction between the coloniser and the colonised and a frank reaction to the failure of the negotiations. This opened the door to re-aligning the path and clarifying the vision.

It is sad that this uprising, which has continued for five months, with no sign of letting up any time soon, still has not found any local, Arab, or international party to back it politically, socially, in the media or financially. There is no one who is pushing it towards becoming a major popular uprising and arming it with political goals and visions that eliminate the past phase, along with its figures and failed policies.

We urgently need to turn this uprising and phenomenon of stabbings, hit-and-runs and lone-wolf operations into a new type of popular intifada; a new intifada that is different to the first and second intifada, given the difference of the generation that came after the Oslo Accords who sparked the uprising, the difference in the time and conditions of the intifada due to the occupation’s fierceness, and the quick shift in the Israeli society towards the right-wing and the domination of extremist and racist forces. However, the transition to a popular uprising first requires ending the division and then achieving national unity, as it is the main factor for the victory of national liberation movements and oppressed nations.

The most important element to overcome goes beyond national unity, despite its importance. I believe what is required is the restoration of the liberation movement’s discourse, which focuses on ridding ourselves of the occupation and the relationship based on dependency and domination, imposed by this occupation. This is what we call maintaining our national constants. We need a national liberation discourse capable of rebuilding the alliances of the Palestinian people with the democratic and progressive forces in the Arab world, as well as with the international peace-loving forces and those supporting the liberation of nations.

The fruitless negotiations and political process have, to a large extent, made us lose the terms of liberation discourse in favour of human rights and international legitimacy discourse, which is isolated from the colonial greediness experienced on the ground. The restoration of the national liberation discourse will free us from the burdens and demands that turned the PA from a national liberation leadership to a mediator between the citizens and the occupation. A part of this equation is the fact that the PA became more prominent, at the expense of the PLO, not because of the strength of the former, but rather because of the weakness of the latter. The question that raises itself here is: Is cancelling the PA and disabling it a necessary condition for reviving the PLO?

Reviving the liberation movement discourse re-positions the resistance and PA in a complementary context, as the PA’s role is limited to providing the economic, financial, educational, health, etc. means of perseverance and relinquishes its security role associated with the occupation, allowing the resistance to face the occupier.

The PA exceeded its operational role in the country and violated the rights of the people. It does not make sense for national liberation factions to oppress the rights of their people and still be able to liberate the country. There also cannot be a political organisation that can determine its future without being able to determine its terms. Freedom is what creates national discourse and renews it, as well as enables us to innovate means of fighting that are suitable for the phase.

Calcification hinders renewal and without allowing the youth to occupy leadership positions that enable them to influence policies and positions, including rescuing the national project, and enables them to create their future and opens the door to future generations in the context of the national liberation process.

If we want to overcome the negative issues in the current stage, we must renew our discourse and structure by committing to national liberation discourse and to a young political structure that can put us on an alternative national path.

Reality does not allow for a vacuum, and unfortunately today, the vacuum is being filled with forces adopting takfirist ideology that is spreading like wildfire, as they expertly use the tools of our time, especially in the youth circles. We must keep in mind the fact that the occupation’s circles help create an environment conducive to takfirist discourse in order to drive a wedge between the Palestinian national struggle forces and the democratic and progressive forces in the world that support this struggle. It does so by creating a false similarity between the legitimate resistance and the takfirist terrorism.

In light of the growing extremist Jewish ethno-national discourse, it has become necessary to hold on to our enlightening national liberation discourse which formed the terms of the Palestinian National Charter, the Palestinian Declaration of Independence, and the agendas of the Palestinian factions and parties.

Is this the Third Intifada?

Rising tensions in the Occupied Territories have led to dozens of deaths and hundreds of clashes.
Are we witnessing the Third Intifada?

Unfortunately, the PLO failed to provide a new political, social, economic and cultural vision that goes hand in hand with the idea of democratic national liberation that is enlightened and open to human cultures.

Restoring the democratic national discourse and promoting it will put barriers and distance between us and the takfirist approaches and will confirm our position as a liberation and resistance movement in the freedom and progress camp that opposes war, occupation, racism, colonialism and tyranny which is enrooted in Israel. While the first generation that sparked the revolution was able to take advantage of that historical moment and succeeded in integrating the PLO into the democratic, justice and liberation forces that suited the movement of history, the challenge we are facing today can be summed up in one question: Can we restore or regain that moment and position?

The national democratic discourse alone is not enough to overcome the crisis and transition from the state of helplessness and paralysis to action. There is a need to follow social, economic and security policies that are in line with the national liberation movement’s discourse. We cannot continue the security coordination with the occupation authorities, while at the same time claim that we are a liberation movement and fight against this occupation. It does not make sense for the PA to continue to adopt backwards social values and continue to adopt outdated laws that hinder the development of society, especially with regards to women, youth and freedoms, and at the same claim that it is working towards liberation. We cannot separate the liberation of the land and the liberation of the people. We need a revolution in our education, intellectual and cultural systems, as well as in our legal system in order to build the factors of perseverance for our people and provide the youth with hope and confidence in order for them to continue and develop their fight to gain freedom, the right of return and national independence.

The Palestinian leadership failed to grasp the purpose or significance of the uprising, which provided a national compass that can be used to re-align the path, far from the delusions and mirages of false negotiations and peace. The official leadership did not seize this historical moment and continues to be at a standstill, repeating the same discourse and performance in isolation of the masses. These masses took the first steps towards re-aligning the path and towards restoring the position of the Palestinian cause as a national liberation cause that is open to the world and restoring it to being the centre of attention in light of the dramatic events occurring in the Arab world, which have overshadowed the Palestinian cause.

Escaping the crisis requires achieving a national reconciliation and ending the catastrophic division, as well as re-formulating the national movement and Palestinian system. This can be achieved by adopting a national programme based on the National Charter, the Declaration of Independence, and the national reconciliation document issued by the prisoners, creating a complete and comprehensive national partnership between the PLO, PA, PNC, PLC and the various Palestinian institutions, and committing to democratic political pluralism by holding regular presidential and legislative elections that include the PNC in order to continuously bring in new blood and brains.

We must also generate a new political elite who are committed to the constants and willing to pay the price of the national liberation phase courageously, far from corruption, illegal earnings, helplessness, failure and the mentality of exclusion and exclusivity. We need a new structure in which women, who make up half the society, participate on a completely equal platform and in which young men and women also participate; a structure based on the concept of comprehensive resistance against the occupation and the entire Zionist colonial project.

These are major tasks that require us to hold a national conference attended by all political forces, economic and social players, the intellectual and academic elites, and representatives of the youth, women and released prisoners, as well as representatives of the Palestinians within 1948 Palestine and in diaspora.

Marwan Barghouti is Fatah leader currently imprisoned in an Israeli prison.

Translated from Al-Quds Al-Arabi, 20 March 2016

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

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