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On Palestinian unity on the ground

January 27, 2023 at 9:45 am

Palestinian flag in Gaza City, Gaza on January 22, 2023. [Mustafa Hassona – Anadolu Agency]

There is one point that stands out recently, and that is the cessation of the demands to end the division or the demands to seek reconciliation. This is because the division that has occurred was a necessity and it was implemented on the ground. The Palestinian people would not unite under the Oslo Accords or under any project calling for a two-state solution, nor would they agree on the international resolutions. It is no longer possible to unite on the basis of a liberation or resistance strategy, especially after the rift caused by the Oslo Accords. This is evidenced by all of the attempts made to end the division or to achieve a reconciliation based on a joint programme, which has failed.

We can add that the practical result that occurred on the ground, in light of the division, was not the destruction or crisis of the Palestinian struggle or the Palestinian cause. This is also evidenced by the fact that the Oslo project ended in miserable failure, and the settlement path did not achieve the goal of liquidating the Palestinian cause. It did not prevent, but rather facilitated the continuation of the uprisings and developed them, as we now have a liberated Gaza Strip, despite the blockade. We also have an armed Resistance in it, that has fought one war after the other, until it imposed the rules of engagement, and “unity” would not have achieved a tenth of its strength.

The Sword of Jerusalem Battle in 2021 occurred, along with the uprising that accompanied it and the demonstrations in the Palestinian Territories occupied in 1948 and the West Bank. This was then followed by the escalation of the armed Resistance in the West Bank, which has lasted until today, in early 2023, and has reached the point that the position of the Jenin Brigade and the Lions’ Den in Nablus has been solidified. There has also been an outbreak of confrontations in dozens of villages, cities and camps.

This is why no one should, after today, criticise the division, praise reconciliation, praise the impossible or imaginary unity, or apply the theory of why no one should, after today, mock what happened in terms of division, or praise reconciliation, or the impossible or imaginary unity, or apply the theory of unity is strength and division is weakness. They can be responded to with the Palestinian experience, as realistically, there was strength in division and weakness in reconciliation.

Of course, there are two approaches: One considers reality and results on the ground to have the final say, and the second thinks that the logic and theories in one’s mind has the final say in reading reality, even it if is very different.

This does not mean we should reach the point of saying that division leading to fighting could be good and, in the case of the Palestinians, is a widespread evil and it cannot be approached. This was disproved by experienced as well, when it was avoided.

Division can be under an umbrella that does not allow for bloodshed or fighting, and its remainder is a necessary evil. However, the results may bring a positive situation, as is the case now. This has been proven  by experience in responding to those who panicked and expected the worst, unless the division ends and everyone unites.

However, there is an option that has been proven by practical experience, and it is possible to emerge with a belief from it that allows the transformation of the inevitable division, as it is too late to go back, given the Oslo Accords, into something good in the confrontation with the enemy.

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When the American President put forward his project called the “Deal of the Century”, it was met with rejection and opposition by the PA leadership and the PLO in the West Bank. It was also met with categorical rejection and the firm attack it deserves against the US and its President by the other side of the “division” in the Gaza Strip.

There was widespread Arab and Islamic popular opposition, and all of these factors met in a moment, without prior arrangement or agreement, to oppose the “deal of the Century”, as well as denounce and eliminate it. This led to its weakening and its ultimate failure, without underestimating the importance of Donald Trump’s fall in the elections.

When the Sword of Jerusalem Battle broke out, at the clever initiative from the Resistance in the Gaza Strip, the uprising in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the 2021 West Bank demonstrations, it united the Palestinian people at home and abroad, in a unique and extraordinary moment, allowing its fruit to be reaped at the time and afterwards.

When the Resistance began to escalate matters in the year 2022, starting with the confrontations in Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem, and in the “lone wolf”  operations such as the Beersheba operation (by Muhammad Ghaleb Abu Al-Qia’an), the Bnei Brak operation (by Dia Hamarsheh) and the Dizengoff Street operation (by Raad Hazem), then it was followed by the phenomena of the Jenin Brigade, and the phenomenon of Ibrahim Al-Nabulsi, the funerals of the martyrs and, last but not least, the phenomenon of the Lions’ Den, it was all under cover of popular enthusiasm and embraced by the public in an unprecedented manner.

The Palestinian situation began to witness widespread unity, coming together to support the Resistance in the West Bank, and providing it with all the means of support and assistance, both apparent and hidden.

As for the factions, they each, according to their capabilities, skills, and role, began to unite in their position on the new phenomenon Resistance in the West Bank.

The summary of the theory here is that there is an achievement of widespread unity that is formed in the same moment on the ground. Its impact and fruit emerges, as the event, action and general atmosphere can unite those who could not be united through dialogue, efforts and awareness, or because of division. Of course, it still has an impact, even when it does not succeed.

The Palestinian issue is a uniting issue, hostility to the Occupation and its crimes is also a comprehensive issue, and the public’s general opinion in unifying. However, this unity does not have to be an organised unity with prior awareness, but rather a unity that could impose itself in the field, as indicated by the Palestinian experience on more than one occasion.

Of course, this does not mean that conscious and organised attempts to achieve unity should be cancelled, but it also does not prevent the formation of unity under the banner of a specific issue, a specific event or a happy moment in the field.

This article was first published in Arabic in Arabi 21, on 24 January 2023

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