It is clear that a new international and regional conspiracy is being prepared to liquidate the Palestinian cause, and bring an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict in favour of the occupying power, without achieving even a minimum of objectives for the Palestinian people. This conspiracy is no longer a speculative interpretation of history, or a way of escaping our internal problems by blaming others. It has become the topic talked about in major Western and Hebrew media under coded names such as the “deal of the century” which actually express one, and only one, core essence: to end the Palestinian cause with one result, which we can call “the three-state solution”, and not the internationally recognised two-state.
What does the conspiracy look like? With so much talking, writing and leaks about the nature of the conspiracy/deal, it seems difficult to define its final form. However, no matter what the details, it looks like leading to this “three-state solution” of a Jewish state, a Jordanian state that includes part of the West Bank, and an Egyptian state that includes the Gaza Strip.
Some observers believe that the conspiracy will be implemented by escalating the siege on the Gaza Strip (which is happening now) to push the Palestinians in the enclave to rebel against Hamas and hold the movement responsible for the blockade. This could lead to chaos, prompting the Egyptian army to intervene and Cairo to annex the Gaza Strip, as was the case before the Israeli occupation in 1967.
Another interpretation of events believes that it will start with a devastating war against the Gaza Strip during which Palestinian civilians will be allowed to escape to the Sinai Peninsula, giving the Israeli army the green light to destroy Hamas and end its military presence. This will let Israel annex Gaza and those people left behind; those who are in Sinai to come under Egyptian sovereignty; and what’s left of the West Bank to be annexed to Jordan.
The third possible interpretation of the deal/conspiracy is to exert pressure and tighten the blockade as much as possible against Gaza, forcing Hamas to “allow” the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority or Mohamed Dahlan to rule the Strip, which will be followed by a solution to the economic situation and lifting the siege in coordination with Egypt. This will lead to an economic peace sponsored by Egypt, with a similar economic solution for the West Bank as part of Jordan.
These three interpretations are uncertain, and no one can determine which is most realistic or accurate, but the ambiguity that surrounds what is known as the “deal of the century” or “Trump deal” allows for all possibilities. If we do not believe that the first and second readings are possible, the third option is probably more likely, but it is not an easy option. It will clash with the positions of Hamas and other factions. It also contradicts official policy in Amman, which rejects any Jordanian solution or even a confederation before Palestinians have a final peace agreement.
The Palestinian impasse is the absence of a viable national liberation plan that has a real impact on the occupation. Despite the uncertainty about the nature of the deal that is being prepared to settle the Palestinian issue, and although the implementation of any of the three possibilities (or any others) will not be easy, this impasse still remains. It has been unsolvable for years and actually helps those who conspire against the Palestinians.
I am not referring to the political division in Palestine. That is the excuse that the enemies are using to justify their aggression and friends are using to justify abandoning their support for Palestine and its people.
Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority have adopted a negotiations approach to a peace deal, but have declared repeatedly that these negotiations are no longer viable, that Oslo no longer exists, and that America is no longer an honest broker. On the other hand, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other factions have adopted the approach of armed resistance to the occupation, but this has become, in practical terms, defensive in nature. The occupation has been able to impose a real deterrent since its aggression on Gaza in 2008/2009, so that Hamas and its weapons in the territory are for self-defence and not resistance or liberation, because any initiative by Hamas to use these weapons means a devastating war for the Strip.
The impasse, then, is that the two main approaches declared by Palestinians to obtain their legitimate rights have reached a dead end — at least for the time being — as the occupation imposes new facts on the ground every day in the West Bank and turns the lives of the people of Gaza into hell through the blockade. And in the absence of any horizon for an effective Palestinian action against the occupation, Tel Aviv has been for the most part, and for years, enjoying an occupation that is costing it nothing to enforce.
What is the way out? As they face the conspiracy that is being plotted against them, the Palestinians appear as victims waiting for their killers to show up, and only thinking about the options they will be given for how they will die. The Palestinians in Gaza, and the de facto Hamas government there, are waiting for the siege to be lifted. Hamas has done everything it can do on the political level, while at the same time trying to open up to all parties, including those who are hostile to one another. What Hamas and the Gaza Strip are doing is waiting for what others will decide about the siege, the war, the deal or all other options, not least because all of the concessions that the movement has made to Egypt, Abbas and even Dahlan have done nothing to restore life to the coastal enclave.
The same is true in the West Bank. Palestinians are following the changes that the Israelis are making on the ground, from geography to demography, which are creating a new reality that has made the two-state solution, as well as liberation, impossible. The Palestinian Authority and its president are “waiting” for the White House’s decision, while Trump is angry at the position of the PA towards his acknowledgement of Jerusalem as the capital of the occupying power. Nothing but waiting, and the decisions of the Central Council of the PLO were nothing but words and revolving in the same direction of “Oslo”, which continues to prove its own failure.
So what solution is there other than waiting? The historical experience of the Palestinian struggle since the beginning of the 20th century has shown that peaceful popular revolutions are the most effective against the occupation. They are also the most costly for Israel from the political, logistical, economical and security aspects. They expose the Zionist state to the world for what it is — a colonial power — and bring the conflict back to basics: it’s about an occupied people fighting against a military occupation.
Peaceful popular revolutions are also the least costly option for Palestinians. The useless Palestinian waiting and the miserable equation of the inexpensive occupation can be ended by popular civil resistance in the West Bank and along the border between the Gaza Strip and the adjacent territories. A resistance that will force the occupation to become defensive rather than offensive will also contribute to ending the status quo which only benefits Israel and takes a lot from Palestinians every day, including their dreams for the future.
This article was first published in Arabic on Arabi21 on 31 January 2018
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.