Thirty years after the failed Madrid Peace Conference, which began the process of the surrender of the Palestinian people and led to the Oslo Accords, the Spanish city hosted a new conference to forge an alternative revolutionary path for the liberation of Palestine; a new chapter in history.
The Conference on the Alternative Palestinian Revolutionary Path Movement (Masar Badil) was held in Madrid, Beirut and Sao Paulo from 30 October to 2 November. During the global event, a popular political movement was launched to establish a project of return and the end of the occupation. It was organised with the support of Samidoun Palestinian Prisoners Solidarity Network, the Alkarama Palestinian Women's Movement and several other organisations inside and outside the occupied Palestinian territories.
It calls on "the Palestinian resistance forces, the various national and popular bodies, the youth, student and feminist movements, the boycott and anti-normalisation committees and all the masses of our struggling people in the occupied homeland and throughout the Diaspora to unite nationally to establish a united Palestinian national front to resist racist Zionist settler colonialism in all of Palestine, to confront the Zionist movement and its allies in the world, and to work to break all the cycles of siege by developing the ability of our Palestinian people to restore and liberate their institutions, and to strengthen the position and role of the Palestinian liberation movement and its active presence in the Arab and international arenas."
According to Jaldia Abubakra, coordinator of Masar Badil Madrid, this is "the path to change the process of surrender that started a long time ago, particularly in the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991, which led to the Oslo Accords. We saw how catastrophic this was for our people."
"So we met as individuals, associations, struggling organisations who defend the Palestinian people's rights and to discuss how we can work together and build together. We encourage young generations to assume their role, and for Palestinian women to play their role in liberation and return," she says.
The conference in Madrid was accompanied by a cultural event and a demonstration in the city centre to "condemn the Oslo path, the Balfour declaration and anything that harms Palestine," says Jaldia.
"All Palestinian forces and Palestinian organisations have a consensus that the liquidationist path of Madrid and Oslo has failed. Then what is the alternative path? Is it to reproduce the failed process of Madrid and Oslo again or is it for the Palestinian people to forge a revolutionary alternative path?" Khaled Barakat, coordinator of the Masar Badil preparatory committee, asks.
"One of the central aspects of this conference is celebrating and pushing forward the path of resistance for the Palestinian people … The Palestinian resistance and the Palestinian people and their friends everywhere around the world made it clear in May — if it was not already quite clear — that resistance is the choice of the Palestinian people, not normalisation and capitulation to imperialism, Zionism and reactionary regimes that host US military bases and sign deals with the Israeli occupation," Barakat adds.
The event in Brazil heard speakers calling for an end to fascist governments.
"Here in Brazil, with this current fascist government, we have an important point in common which is to fight against fascism and Zionism," Rawa Alsagheer, coordinator of the movements Samidoun, Alkarama and Alternative Palestinian Revolutionary Path Movement, said.
"We see that Brazil in recent years, unfortunately not only during the Bolsonaro government, during the so-called progressive governments, has become the fifth largest importer of Israeli military technology," Palestinian-Brazilian journalist and activist, Soraya Misleh added.
"We have to send a message from Brazil, that there are people here fighting for their rights and they are understanding that this struggle is also for the liberation of the Palestinians, because nobody is born free while the Palestinians are oppressed, while any other people in the world are oppressed," Misleh continued.
Among the new movement's plans are efforts to organise "a national and popular campaign to bring down the so-called Palestinian Authority and work to liberate the institutions of our Palestinian people from the grip of the minority class sector that dominates Palestinian political decision-making," a statement by the movement says.
"Our conference considers the Palestine Liberation Organisation to be a confiscated and hijacked Palestinian institution, whose decisions and institutions are dominated by a corrupt class sector, an agent of Zionist colonialism, and a weak leadership that lacks revolutionary, popular and legal legitimacy. On this basis, we consider that the PLO and its leadership, in their current form, do not represent us and cannot represent the struggles and rights of our people," it continues.
Its five-year plan includes hosting the first Palestinian student conference in 2022; the organisation of annual youth camps in the diaspora; and the establishment of a network of Palestinian centres in a number of cities around the world, which will serve as headquarters for popular action.
The movement is one "that supports women's rights, workers' rights, students' rights. We not only want an alternative political path, but we also need an alternative path for students, an alternative feminist path, and an alternative labour path," says the movement's coordinator Khaled Barakat.
It seeks to establish "a democratic society in all of Palestine based on justice and equality: A society free from class exploitation, racism and Zionism," Masar Badil adds in its declaration.